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Electoral Reform

June 2023 — RCV News from the NYS Convention — Study Committee Forming

The NYS RCV Committee, founded by a PWM member, spearheaded education and and mobilization to add RCV to the LWV of NYS 2023-24 Program. The effort meant that 40% of NYS local Leagues recommended this to NYS — and the NYS Board responded by recommending a statewide Study Committee study  on the use of RCV and alternatives to party primaries for state, congressional and local office. 

This Study Committee was approved by delegates almost unanimously and will begin forming in the summer of 2023, will likely work through much of 2024, and local Leagues across the state may weigh in during early 2024.

We congratulate the NYS RCV Committee on their work — and the NYS Board and Convention delegates in choosing this path.  It will provide significant direction, using the best evidence available, to make recommendations about whether, why, and where NYS might choose to move from plurality voting (what we have now in most jurisdictions, often called “first past the post”) to something that may serve NYS voters better.

Although the RCV Committee members will likely continue educating NYS residents and League members on this issue, much of their effort will be in supporting the Study Committee efforts. Updates will be shared here, when they are available.

This page will be revised soon.


Help LWV of NYS Achieve a Position on RCV

Check Out Our Plans for Concurrence at NYS Convention 2023

What LWV PWM is doing

See video of our most recent educational event: an evening with Neal Simon, author of Contract for America: Ten Reforms to Reclaim our Republic, posted on LWVofPWM YouTube.

The LWV Port Washington/Manhasset is actively engaged on Electoral Reform issues. We are looking to work with members who share the belief that we must improve the ways we elect our leaders to build a stronger democracy in the 21st century. Voters who don’t feel heard don’t engage. Engaging voters motivates them to do the work that democracy requires.

We established our Electoral Reform Committee in the spring of 2021. This is an issue area with many opportunities to improve our elections and voting; this committee seeks to be an inclusive umbrella for those seeking specific reforms — both those already supported by League positions and those needing studies because no position yet exists. Here are a few highlights of our first year:

Building a base within our own League

    • We educated ourselves on the LWVUS Electoral Systems position, adopted at the 2020 National Convention, by concurrence. We met and interviewed the authors of the US new position, who were instrumental in drafting and advocating for their state positions over the past twenty years LWVUS Electoral Systems position is available here
    • At the request of the LWVPWM Board, we built a comprehensive study guide based on the work of state Leagues from around the country, and we held education and consensus sessions. Our membership adopted the US position by concurrence so our League can support reforms at the local level. Our Study Packet, with links to multiple state studies is available here
    • We sought to organize a network of advocates within local Leagues within NYS to drive towards achieving a NYS position — a state position would allow more effective advocacy at all levels of NYS government and a statewide network would offer a stronger base for advocacy within the League and in local communities.

Building a network across NYS

    • To accelerate the building of a statewide network, we partnered with LWV of the City of New York to present a caucus at the 2021 NYS Convention. It was well received and we built a base for mobilizing NYS League members.

View Caucus video on our YouTube Channel

    • It became clear that education would be a key to our success so we began learning and discussing the alternatives to plurality voting, such as Ranked Choice Voting (RCV)
    • We are exploiting virtual meeting tools to bridge distances and build teams from distant Leagues

Our Goal: 2023 Convention adoption of a NYS position on Electoral Reform.

If achieving a voting system that better represents the preferences of voters and allows voters to vote their consciences (voting FOR the candidates they prefer) rather than voting strategically (to prevent the candidates they like least from winning), excites you, we would love to work with you.

2022 Goal:  LWV of PWM Adoption of LWV of NYC position 

See the Study Materials we prepared to educate League members prior to Concurrence meeting

Recent NYS Voting Reforms




League Advocacy Ahead

LWV of NYS 2023 priorities include

    • the constitutional amendment process for no-excuse absentee and same-day registration
    • ending felony disenfranchisement,
    • the NYVRA database bill,
    • board of elections reform,
    • youth votingrights,
    • votingin jails, and
    • a plain language ballot initiative.
    • pop-up polling places for marginalized voters
    • new rules for removing election commissioners for “incompetence, misconduct or other good cause.”

Further priorities include (in partnership with multiple good government groups)

    • Enact the 11-bill board of elections reform package with adequate and reliable state funding: to address a statewide election administration system rife with problems, from chronic understaffing and underfunding to inadequate training protocols.
    • Realize the goals of the NY VRA with the voting and elections database and corresponding funding
    • Fund the small donor public financing program’s historic first cycle
    • Support automatic voter registration implementation
    • Make voter registration and absentee voting more accessible

Where Other Leagues Support Ranked Choice Voting

We are building Electoral Reform in NYS on a strong foundation. State and local Leagues around the country have worked on this for years.

14 other state level Leagues have positions in favor of Electoral Reform, alternatives to plurality voting, and RCV (AZ, CA, CO, CO, FL, MA, ME, MN, NC, OK, OR, PA, SC, VT, WA). Here’s a particularly strong example from Washington State

RCV is now in use in over 50 jurisdictions in the United States. On Election Day in 2021, 31 states and localities used Ranked Choice Voting to choose their leaders

What about in NYC:

LWVNYC adopted a position in favor of Ranked Choice Voting in 2010. Though it took nearly a decade, in 2019 NYC agreed to run its 2021 primary elections using RCV.

With sponsors from NYC and Buffalo, the NYS Assembly and NYS Senate have both drafted bills supporting the implementation of Ranked Choice Voting in New York State, though these bills have yet to make it out of committee.

Our PWM committee actively monitors these bills, will score them according to the US position, with other NYS Local Leagues and NYS non-profit, non-partisan allies, and regularly report to our PWM Board and membership.

Ranked Choice Voting Through a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Lens

Voting systems that better represent the preferences of the entire electorate, encouraging “sincere” voting rather than “strategic voting” — that is, that allow voters to cast ballots for their favored candidate rather than against the candidate they least favor — result in more candidates throwing their hats into the ring and a greater diversity of winners.

    • NYC first adopted RCV in 1936 (to challenge the control of Tammany Hall). In 1941, Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., became the City’s the first Black member of the city council, which provided him the base to be elected the City’s first Black US Representative — and RCV allowed Genevieve Beavers Earle to be the first woman to win a NYC city council seat. NYC repealed the system in 1945 due to a backlash to so many minorities, women, and third-party candidates winning offices.
    • Two dozen cities reformed their plurality voting system to a RCV-type system in the same period as NYC — and Cincinnati, Hamilton and Toledo elected their first African-American city council members.
    • In 2021, RCV is credited with helping women win 61% of the NYC council seats, double the previous number. The council will also be younger, have more people of color, and more “firsts” of other ethnicities, e.g., the first Muslim woman and the first gay Black woman. RCV is credited with encouraging more candidates to run, engaging voters (to create a spike in turnout), and campaigns that focused much more on policy than ad hominem attacks.

Women's Representation on the NYC City Council


What is Ranked Choice Voting?

Find Out More

Excellent infomation on Election Reform can be found at FairVote
This is a good educational overview video of the history of RCV and how it work
A couple of addtional alternatives to pluarlity voting – Approval Voting and Star Voting
A LWV ally in non-partisan advocacy for RCV in NYS – Ranked Choice NY. The national parent org is Rank The Vote

Ask Us, Join Us

Whether you have a couple hours a month (or much more), whether you know voting reform is something you care about (or you have doubts but want to learn), or whether there is some other aspect of voting reform you want to educate and advocate for — we’d love to hear from you.