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Advocates Say Ranked Choice Voting Will Give More Power To The People

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Voters in New York City will decide on a measure that could significantly impact how they vote in the future.  A proposal for Ranked Choice Voting will be on the ballot.  It’s being praised for giving voters more power.

You’ve probably gone into a voting booth and voted for a candidate – or maybe against a candidate.  But you get only one choice.  What if you could rank a few candidates – your favorite, second choice, etc.?  That’s how ranked-choice voting works.  And Susan Lerner from Common Cause believes it will lead to nominees and office holders truly supported by the people.

"We consensus choice of the majority of the voters," said Lerner. "In these very crowded fields it is not unusual to have the winner be chosen with less than 50, often less than 40 percent, of the vote. So this is a strengthening democracy reform."

After voters rank their choices, if someone gets a majority, they win.  If not, second and third place ranks come into play until majority support is reached.  

The idea is not new. It’s being used in San Francisco, Minneapolis and Sante Fe and in some other countries.  And it change the way people campaign, especially on new ideas.

"It discourages negative campaigning," said Lerner. "It encourages the candidates in reaching out to as many voters as they can possibly reach, in as many communities as they can possibly reach, to provide them with accurate information about their own viewpoints."

This reform is being considered for New York City.  But Lerner believes if approved, the large population there would send a message and ranked choice voting could expand around the state and nation.

Chris Bolt, Ed.D. has proudly been covering the Central New York community and mentoring students for more than 30 years. His career in public media started as a student volunteer, then as a reporter/producer. He has been the news director for WAER since 1995. Dedicated to keeping local news coverage alive, Chris also has a passion for education, having trained, mentored and provided a platform for growth to more than a thousand students. Career highlights include having work appear on NPR, CBS, ABC and other news networks, winning numerous local and state journalism awards.