When it comes to running for public office, it can get pretty nasty during the election. According to Dave Heller, sometimes it is more mudslinging than issue-based campaigns.

“If you’re not voting for what you want, you’re not speaking your true mind,” said Dave Heller, the director of Ranked Choice NY.

What You Need To Know

  • Alaska just became the second state after Maine to start using ranked choice voting in state elections

  • The measure was adopted in New York City last year

  • Advocates hope to educated and push for ranked choice voting on the local level

It’s a group that’s advocating for ranked choice voting in New York state, and a way that Heller believes could make candidates focus more on the issues. Also known as an instant runoff, the system asks voters to rank their candidates as their first, second, or third choices.

“The other benefit too is because as a candidate, you’re trying to get other candidate’s second choice votes,” Heller said.

A candidate has to receive the majority of the votes to be declared a winner. If that doesn’t happen after the first round, the last place candidate is eliminated and then those votes are redistributed. This process continues until there’s a winner.  

“If no one gets 50 percent, then you look at the number twos, and you see if there’s a majority there and if there is, then you call a winner,” said Blair Horner, New York Public Interest Research Group executive director.

He says New York City adopted it for their primary to save time and costs due to frequent runoffs. But statewide, that’s whole another challenge. Horner says politically it’s tough to ask winners to change the rules in a system they succeed in.

“Part of it is also the complexity for voters, to explain to them a new system in place,” Horner said.

He says that was the argument leading to its defeat in Massachusetts recently. Meanwhile, voters in Alaska just narrowly passed it to become the second state after Maine to adopt ranked choice voting statewide.  

Heller says they’re going to push for it on the local level, cities, towns, and counties. He hopes this strategy will get more people educated and familiar with it.

But Horner and Heller say it also depends on how it works out in the big apple.

“That’s half of our state so I’m confident that we can make it happen here,” Heller said.