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Ranked-choice voting faces big test Tuesday in New York City mayoral primary

Election 2021 NYC Mayoral race ranked-choice voting
Posted at 8:05 AM, Jun 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-22 08:05:49-04

Voters in New York City on Tuesday will take place in historic elections — the city's first use of ranked-choice voting.

The new system, which allows voters to select multiple candidates and rank them in order of preference, will be used in the city for the first time on Tuesday in the primary election for the city's tightly-contested mayoral race.

Ranked-choice voting is already in use in presidential primary elections in Maine, and Alaska voters approved a measure to adopt a similar system in November. But Tuesday's vote in New York City will represent the largest municipality in the U.S. to utilize the system.

Voters in the Democratic primary will have the opportunity to select as many as five candidates (but as few as one) and rank them in order of preference. According to NBC News, a candidate can clinch the primary by receiving more than 50% of first-choice votes.

If no candidate gets a majority of first-place votes, the candidate with the fewest first-choice votes is eliminated, and their votes are redistributed based on a voter's second choice. The process repeats itself until a candidate reaches a 50% threshold.

The goal of ranked-choice voting is to cut down on hyperpartisanship and increase turnout.

But in a crowded Democratic primary of eight candidates — including former presidential candidate Andrew Yang and Brooklyn borough president Eric Adams — the new system has made it difficult for pollsters to determine a clear-cut frontrunner.

It may also take several weeks to determine a winner in the event of a close race. Because of the intricate process and because some absentee ballots have not yet arrived, officials have said they may not be able to determine the winner of the Democratic primary until early July.

Winners of the Democratic primary will be heavily favored in the November general election over the winner of the Republican primary, which features only two candidates.

Candidates in the mayoral race are vying to replace current New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat. De Blasio, who was first elected to the office in 2013, has termed out.

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