Watchdogs’ letter to Board of Elections on RCV implementation


June 26, 2020

Via Email

Patricia Anne Taylor,  President
Frederic M. Umane, Secretary
Commissioners of Elections
New York City Board of Elections
42 Broadway
New York, NY


Re: Checking on status of June 1, 2020 RCV implementation report

Dear Mr. Ryan and Ms. Sandow,

We, the undersigned, fought hard to bring Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) to New York City last year. Nearly 75% of New Yorkers voted in support of transforming our municipal elections in 2021 through the use of RCV in our local primary and special elections. New York City is now the largest US jurisdiction to adopt RCV, tripling the number of US voters using RCV overnight.

Voters in other cities, states, and countries have voted via Ranked Choice Voting for decades. They rank their favorite candidates for congressional races in Maine, District Attorney in San Francisco, and City Council in Minneapolis among many others. New Yorkers are already eager to use RCV as they watch crowded congressional primaries unfold where fears of vote splitting are driving candidates to drop out and voters are being encouraged to vote strategically as opposed to their true preference. Ranked Choice Voting will solve for these undemocratic outcomes in 2021, but only if our election infrastructure is ready to comply with city law.

The COVID pandemic has upended life as we know it and placed tremendous pressure on city agencies to meet their mission and continue functioning in the new normal. In addition to conducting elections in 2020, the New York City Board of Elections (NYC BOE) has been tasked with faithfully implementing the will of New Yorkers by preparing for our first Ranked Choice Voting elections next year.

We acknowledge the additional burden of operating in this new environment, but as we’ve seen the NYC BOE adapt to the COVID crisis, we remain confident the Board is up to the task. As such, we eagerly anticipate the release of the New York City charter mandated implementation report that was due on June 1, 2020 to the Mayor and Speaker of the City Council. While New York City has the bulk of what it needs, hand-marked paper ballots and optical ballot scanners, nominal software and firmware upgrades need to be certified by the New York State Board of Elections (NYSBOE) before the 2021 election cycle.

It is highly likely New York City will hold its first Ranked Choice Voting election in March: a special election to fill a vacated seat during the 2020 general election, so our organizations remain sensitive to the implementation timeline. We look forward to your updates and the release of the report.


Citizens Union
Common Cause New York
Reinvent Albany
League of Women Voters of the City of New York

Cc: Michael Ryan, Executive Director
Dawn Sandow, Deputy Executive Director