City Council Speaker Wants Instant Runoff Voting

Friday, March 07, 2014

Voting site and sign at 2013 election in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn. Voting site for November 2013 election in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn. (Stephen Nessen/WNYC)

New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito traveled to Albany earlier this week with 35 agenda priorities, and one of them was instant runoff voting. She and other supporters want to abolish expensive runoff elections and instead have voters rank their preferences. Dick Dadey, executive director of Citizens Union, explains why he supports the policy, and whether it could become reality. Plus: a roundup of other changes to rules and operations in the City Council, and the latest on Bill de Blasio, who was in Chicago yesterday at a meeting of big-city mayors, while poll numbers back in New York City show only a 39% approval rating for the new mayor.


Dick Dadey

Comments [12]

Dan Greenberger from Queens

The instant runoff is a good idea. But as you describe it, it seems very unfair. If say most candidates are to the left, and one is a right-wing crackpot who gets few votes, then this candidate would be eliminated first, and the second votes of those who voted for him would be counted. Why should these people decide a close election? In this way, those who vote for the worst candidates get a second choice. If you are going to count second votes at all, then everybody's second vote should count. But even this can be unfair, as if you knew your second vote was to be possibly counted, you might vote for someone who can't win in order that you don't end up voting for someone who might beat your candidate if it is close.
It would be better to ask people to vote for 1. the person they want to win, and 2. the person they would most rather have if their candidate doesn't win, etc.
An example is what happened with Gore, Bush, as you mentioned. If they counted Nader's vote first, Gore would have won, but there were many candidates for right wing crackpot parties, who got fewer votes than Nader, and if their votes were counted first, they would have pushed Bush over the top.

Mar. 07 2014 10:55 AM
Scott from Lower Manhattan

Why privilege the voter's first choice? To rephrase that, why ignore everything but the voter's first choice, even if only until their first choice is eliminated?

There are alternatives. A better choice would be to let voters rate all candidates on the ballot. The winner would either be the one with the highest average rating (score voting) or the one who beats all other candidates in a head-to-head contest based on which is rated higher by more voters (pairwise ranked or condorcet voting).

Mar. 07 2014 10:33 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

I don't understand why the State via taxpayers should pay for closed primaries. Close primaries distort our democratic process. It gives the likes of DeBlasio the illusion that they have mandates

Mar. 07 2014 10:31 AM

I wish I could slow the keyboard repeat rate or eliminate thee from the spell check dictionary. I never type deliberately thee. [well, hardly ever]

Mar. 07 2014 10:30 AM
Terri from Brooklyn

Make it easier to vote: allow us to vote early and/or have 24-hour voting.

I live in one borough and work in another, and can't always get to the polls before or after work. Expanded poll hours would make a difference to many of of cross-borough would-be voters.

Mar. 07 2014 10:28 AM

I support approval voting, or instant runoff voting, in which a voter could vote for all the candidates he likes.
The present vote-for-only-one system fosters divide-and-conquer strategies, and the wasted-vote dilemma. The greatest threat to candidate, is the other candidate who is most like him.

Mar. 07 2014 10:24 AM

Instant Runoff Voting eliminates the "wasted vote" objection to voting for the better but less-likely-to-win candidate.
The present one vote system allows the establishment to divide candidates & parties that have minor differences - divide and conquer thee people.

Mar. 07 2014 10:22 AM
oscar from ny

I keep hearing about companies leaving NY because of higher taxes and so I plead the mayor and governor to stand your ground and don't get bullied by these small minority of geezards who prefer to live anywhere but in the city and plant only mine fields inflating the ppl of the city's pockets.. Don't they know that this city was built by the ppl for the ppl and so we can work and live together even with "mom and pop shops" all around..if these rich companies can do better somewhere else let it be so..go to Alaska and go built tons of hotels over there , give the ppl of NY a brake and stop this bloombergian mentality , quite frankly most of us are not there yet..and thanks for servicing this city.

Mar. 07 2014 10:19 AM
RJ from prospect hts

Does Mr. Dadey see a correlation between the low turnout in the citywide election and the favorability vs. performance poll?

Mar. 07 2014 10:18 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

What about open primaries? NO - too democratic, pun intended.

Mar. 07 2014 10:17 AM
RJ from prospect hts

Does Mr. Dadey see a correlation between the low turnout in the citywide election and the favorability vs. performance poll?

Mar. 07 2014 10:17 AM
Nick from UWS

Brian, please do not contribute to this generations idiotic destruction of the word "unique". You can't ask "how unique" something is. Something is either unique or it isn't. If we suggest gradations of "uniqueness", then we lose a word to describe something that is actually unique.

Mar. 07 2014 10:10 AM

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