Ranked Choice Voting

Ranked Choice Voting

The Ranked Choice Voting information contained on this page comes from the NYC Campaign Finance Board's website.

Starting in 2021, NYC will use Ranked Choice Voting in primary and special elections for local offices

You can rank up to 5 candidates in order of preference, instead of choosing just one. You can still vote for just one candidate if you prefer.

The first Ranked Choice Voting election will be on February 2nd, 2021 in a special election for NYC Council District 24 (Queens). Find upcoming election dates and deadlines at voting.nyc.

Why are we using Ranked Choice Voting?

New Yorkers elected to use Ranked Choice Voting in a 2019 ballot measure. It passed with 73.5% support.

Which elections will use Ranked Choice Voting?

NYC will use Ranked Choice Voting in primary and special elections for local offices: Mayor, Public Advocate, Comptroller, Borough President, and City Council.
Ranked Choice Voting will be used in all Special Elections taking place after January 1, 2021. The first citywide election with Ranked Choice Voting will be the Primary Election on June 22, 2021.

How does Ranked Choice Voting work?

You can rank up to five candidates in order of preference, instead of choosing just one. If a candidate receives more than 50% of first-choice votes, they are the winner. If no candidate earns more than 50% of first-choice votes, then counting will continue in rounds. At the end of each round, the candidate with the fewest votes will be eliminated. If you ranked that candidate first, your vote will go to the next highest ranked candidate on your ballot. This process will continue until there are 2 candidates left. The candidate with the most votes wins.

What benefits has Ranked Choice Voting brought to other cities and states?

Ranked Choice Voting gives voters more say in who gets elected. Even if your first-choice candidate does not win, you are still able to affect the outcome by supporting your 2nd, 3rd, 4th, or even 5th choice. Because candidates will need broad support (even from voters who may not rank them first), campaigns are more likely to focus on appealing to voters like you and less on attacking each other.

Ranked Choice Voting also leads to more diverse candidates winning office. Cities that have implemented Ranked Choice Voting have elected more women and more women of color, making their elected officials more representative of their communities.

Who else uses Ranked Choice Voting?

Seventeen U.S. cities including San Francisco, Santa Fe, and Minneapolis use Ranked Choice Voting, in addition to the State of Maine. It is also used by the Academy Awards!

How can I partner with NYC Votes to educate my community about Ranked Choice Voting?

Thank you for your interest in spreading the word! You can find information on becoming a community partner online.

How to fill out your ballot

Rank up to 5 candidates in order of preference.

ballot sample showing ranked candidates A through E with  correctly filled in ovals

  1. Pick your first-choice candidate and completely fill in the oval next to their name under the 1st column.
  2. If you have a second-choice candidate, fill in the oval next to their name under the 2nd column.
  3. You can rank up to 5 candidates. You can still choose to vote for only one candidate if you prefer. Ranking other candidates does not harm your first choice.

Can I still vote for just one candidate?

Yes. If you prefer, you can still vote for just your first-choice candidate. However, ranking other candidates does not harm your first choice.

Do I have to rank a total of 5 candidates?

No. You can rank up to five candidates, but you do not need to rank a total of 5.

How do I vote for a write-in candidate?

To vote for a candidate whose name is not on the ballot write the name on the “Write-in” line, and fill in an oval to rank your choice.

Can I rank my favorite candidate more than once?

No. If you rank your preferred candidate more than once, for example as your 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th choice, then only your first ranking will count. There is no strategic benefit to ranking the same candidate for all rankings.

ballot sample showing ranked candidates A through  E with incorrectly filled in ovals

Can I rank multiple candidates as my first choice?

No. You can only choose one candidate for each ranking. If you choose more than one candidate as your first choice, your ballot will not be valid.

ballot sample showing ranked candidates A through E with incorrectly  filled in ovals for candidates B & C

How your ballot will be counted

All first-choice votes are counted. If a candidate receives more than 50% of first-choice votes, they win the election.

graph showing percentage of votes for candidates. Candidate A has 16%,  Candidate B has 54%, Candidate C has 22% & Candidate D has 8% of votes

If no candidate earns more than 50% of first-choice votes, then counting will continue in rounds.

Ranked choice ballot sample correctly filled in & a graph with voting  percentages for candidates. Candidate A has 27%, candidate B has 39%, candidate  C has 22% & candidate D has 12%

Each round, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated. If your highest rated candidate is eliminated, your vote will move to your next highest rated candidate.

Ranked choice ballot sample correctly filled in & a graph with voting  percentages for candidates. Candidate A has 31%, candidate B has 45%, candidate  C has 24% & candidate D has been eliminated

This process continues until there are only 2 candidates remaining. The candidate with the most votes wins.

Ranked choice ballot sample correctly filled in & a graph with voting  percentages for candidates. Candidate A has 42%, candidate B has 58%, candidate  C & candidate D have been eliminated

When can I expect results in Ranked Choice Voting elections?

It is likely that final results in Ranked Choice elections will not be known until all absentee and military ballots are counted, which could take several weeks after Election Day.

If I rank five candidates, do five votes get counted?

No. You only get one vote counted. Your vote will only count toward your highest rated candidate who has not been eliminated. If your top choice candidate gets eliminated, your vote will then count toward your next highest rated candidate.

Is there a benefit of ranking multiple choices?

Yes. By ranking multiple candidates, you can still impact who gets elected even if your top choice does not win. Ranking multiple candidates ensures your vote will go toward your 2nd, 3rd, 4th, or 5th choice if your top choice is eliminated, giving you more say in who wins.

Will the voting machine tell me if I make a mistake on my ballot?

If you vote in person, the voting machine will let you know if you give multiple candidates the same ranking or submit a completely blank ballot when you scan it in. If you make a mistake, you can ask a poll worker for a new ballot. The voting machine will not let you know if you skip rankings or rank the same candidate multiple times, since your top-choice vote will still count in those situations.

What are the benefits of Ranked Choice Voting?

Ranked Choice Voting gives you more say in who gets elected. Even if your top choice candidate does not win, you can still help choose who does.

More civility and less negative campaigning. Candidates who are not your top choice still need your support as your 2nd, 3rd, 4th, or 5th choice. This makes them more likely to appeal to a wider audience.

More diverse and representative candidates win elections. Cities that have implemented Ranked Choice Voting have elected more women and more women of color, making their elected officials more representative of their communities.

To learn more about voting visit the Campaign Finance Board's website