NYS lawmakers hear testimony on ranked choice voting

The New York Assembly's Standing Committee on Election Law held a public hearing on Monday to review New York City's rollout of ranked choice voting this year. Around 20 witnesses testified before the state lawmakers at City Tech in Downtown Brooklyn.

"The Election Law Committee seeks recommendations from elected officials, advocates, and other stakeholders on what more needs to be done," said Assembly Member Latrice Walker, D-Brooklyn, who led the hearing as the chair of the Committee on Elections.

City Council Member Daneek Miller, D-Queens, during his testimony derisively waved a postcard he received from the Board of Elections in the weeks leading up to the June 22 primary elections, which include the party contests in the mayoral race

"This is the ranked choice voting postcard that the city spent its $2 million on," Miller said. "This was the education."

And Council Member Selvena Brooks-Powers, D-Queens, whose special election in March was one of the first RCV contests in the city, said the BOE failed to educate poor and working-class communities about how the voting system worked.

But outside the hearing, ranked choice voting advocates sought to shore up support for the system, saying 95% of voters said it was very simple.

"Contrary to what some politicians say that RCV was too complicated for voters of color, our exit polling says there was no difference in understanding the process through these demographics," said Debbie Lewis, the lead organizer at Rank the Vote NYC.

Both sides agreed, though, that the issue was less with ranked choice voting and more with the BOE. Election law attorney Esmerelda Simmons called for more — and better — help from the state.

"I don't think legislation is necessary but through oversight that the state Board of Elections learn ranked choice voting," Simmons said.