Brooklyn gives thumbs up to ranked choice voting

Public Advocate Jumaane Williams also scored a big victory on Election Day

November 6, 2019 Paula Katinas

Ranked choice voting is coming and New York City elections will never be the same.

Ballot Proposal #1, which called for the City Charter to be amended to make way for a complete overhaul of the city’s election system to allow voters to rank their candidate choices numerically instead of voting for just one person, was approved by an overwhelming margin by voters in the Nov. 5 election.

The ranked voting proposal garnered 473,948 “yes” votes citywide, according to preliminary results released by the New York City Board of Elections. Far fewer New Yorkers, 170,529, voted “No’ on the proposal.

The Brooklyn results were also lopsided in favor of the proposal, as 154,520 voters in the borough said “Yes” and 47,456 voted against it.

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Under the new system, which will go into effect in 2021, voters will have the opportunity to rank candidates in numerical order (instead of voting for just one candidate) in primaries and special elections for mayor, City Council, public advocate, comptroller and borough president. It will not be used in general elections.

Voters would be allowed to rank up to five candidates.

But voters can still choose just one candidate, if that is what they wish to do.

New York City is the now the largest city in the country with ranked choice voting, a system already in place in San Francisco, Minneapolis and Santa Fe.


The group Common Cause/NY endorsed the ballot proposal.

“Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) is the simple solution that puts power back in the hands of the people where it belongs. We look forward to working with our diverse partners and elected officials to educate New Yorkers on how this important reform will work in the local 2021 elections and beyond,” Common Cause/NY Executive Director Susan Lerner said in a statement.

Ranked Choice Voting will ensure that election winners receive a majority of the vote, according to Common Cause/NY, which said the new system will save taxpayers money.

Meanwhile, the other ballot proposals calling for changes to the City Charter were also approved by voters by overwhelming margins. These included proposals to increase the size and power of the Civilian Complaint Review Board and give local community boards more time to review land use issues.

Democrats in New York City continued its local dominance with sweeping victories in the races for public advocate and City Council.

Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, who won a squeaker of a contest for Queens district attorney over Tiffany Caban in the Democratic primary, had a much easier time in the general election on Nov. 5.

Katz earned 137,632 votes (74.58 percent) over her Republican rival, Joseph Murray, who garnered 44,905 votes (24.33 percent).

Former Brooklyn Councilmember Jumaane Williams easily won reelection as New York City’s public advocate, trouncing his Republican-Conservative challenger, Joseph Borelli, by a comfortable margin of more than 3-1.

Democratic Councilmember Farah Louis — who won a special election and then a primary to fill Williams’ former Flatbush council seat earlier this year, after Williams won a special election to fill former Public Advocate Letitia James’ position following James’ election as New York State attorney general — cruised to victory Tuesday night in the City Council’s 45th District.

It marked the third time Louis has had to run in an election in the space of a year.

Williams, a Democrat, earned 77.84 percent of the vote Tuesday night, according to preliminary results from the New York City Board of Elections. Borelli, who ran on both the Republican and Conservative party lines, earned 13.06 percent on the GOP line and 2.90 percent on the Conservative line.

Libertarian Devin Balkind trailed far behind with 0.19 percent.

Citywide, Williams dominated with 563,138 votes. Borelli had 144,429 votes and Balkind came in with 14,524,

Williams also had an easy time in his home borough of Brooklyn, walking away with 189,150 votes to Borelli’s 32,243. Balkind had 3,769 votes in the borough.

Louis, who represents a district that includes Flatbush, East Flatbush, Midwood, Marine Park, Flatlands and Kensington, won a landslide victory, earning an astounding 92.80 percent of the vote, according to the Board of Elections preliminary results. Louis garnered 12,910 votes.

Liberal Anthony Beckford trailed far behind with 652 votes (4.69 percent) and Libertarian David Fite had just 298 votes (2.14 percent).

Louis referred to her numerous campaigns in a tweet she wrote to her supporters after her big win on Nov. 5.

All of the ballot proposals did well both citywide and in Brooklyn.


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