New York City adopted ranked-choice voting in the recent elections. Under the new system, citizens can vote for five candidates in descending order of rank. Under such a system, when a candidate has a majority of the votes cast in first preference vote, he gets elected to office.

In case, a single candidate does not get a majority of first preference votes, the candidate with the lowest number of first preference votes gets eliminated. The eliminated candidate’s first preference votes are added to the votes of the candidate who got second preference votes from the same voter.

If, as a result of such adjustment of votes, a specific candidate emerges with the majority of votes, then that specific candidate is declared elected. If not, once again, the candidate who has the least first preference votes gets eliminated. The process of adjustment goes on until a candidate with a majority of first preference votes emerges.

Voters in New York City will be able to use ranked-choice voting from the primaries and special elections from 2021 onwards. A number of cities in the U.S. already have put such a system in place for some elections. New York City is the largest city to do so.

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Supporters of the move hailed this an important step in deepening democracy by giving voters greater opportunity to exercise choice and by allowing them to appraise every single contesting candidate.

Increasing voter choice is expected to tackle the problems of low voter turnout, especially in municipal elections, expensive run off elections.

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