Saturday, July 3, 2021

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: New York City Debacle

Many persons I know who support ranked choice voting (RCV)
are thoughtful, well-meaning and sincere, and want to improve
the voting system. Most RCV supporters, with some exceptions,
are Democrats or independents.

I have been an agnostic about RCV because although it has
strengths, it also has weaknesses, including delays in reporting
results and a very complicated ballot process.

A few days ago, voters in New York City went to the polls to
choose a new mayor (the incumbent is term-limited) using
RCV for the first time, and the results so far have been chaotic.
First results were almost immediately withdrawn when it was
realized that test votes had been mistakenly counted with actual
votes. A total counting initial second-choices of candidates who
have already conceded or been dropped has now been published,
but since no candidate has exceeded 50%, more will have to be
dropped and their second or third choices counted.

This delay has been exacerbated by an extended deadline for
absentee ballots which reportedly number 125,000, and which
have not yet been counted. It might be some time before final
results are known. Already, at least one major candidate has
gone to court challenging the results, and there are many calls
to abandon the system in future New York City elections.

At a time when many voters of all parties are questioning the
integrity of voting systems and procedures, the New York
debacle could not have occurred at a worse time.

Years ago, some states modified their nomination process
with a precinct caucus system, but it proved to be elitist and
undemocratic, and has been largely abandoned.

The jury is still out on RCV, but the kind of problems which
have arisen in New York City will have to be solved, especially
those which result in delays of vote reporting, if it is to
survive as a credible electoral option.

Copyright (c) 2021 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

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