Report Highlights Ranked Choice Voting in 2021 Elections


The Campaign Finance Board today released the 2021-2022 Voter Analysis Report examining New York City's 2021 elections. The report includes:

  • Comprehensive analysis of voter behavior in New York City's first Ranked Choice Voting elections.
  • Review of voter turnout and early voting patterns for 2021 primary and general elections.
  • Legislative and policy recommendations.

"This report is essential reading for anyone working to make voting more accessible for more New Yorkers," said Zoilo Torres, Chair of the CFB's Voter Assistance Advisory Committee. "The report's detailed findings and bold policy recommendations are important building blocks to bringing more New Yorkers into the voting process. We will use the lessons learned from our experience introducing ranked choice voting in 2021 to guide the city’s effort to implement the new city-only voter law, which allows permanent residents and people with work authorizations to vote in city elections starting in 2023."

Key Findings from the Report:

Ranked Choice Voting

The 2021-22 report shows that New Yorkers overwhelmingly embraced Ranked Choice Voting and the freedom to vote for their true preferences. Overall, nearly 90% of city voters ranked more than one candidate in at least one race on their primary ballot. Breaking the ranking patterns down by party, 89.3% of Democratic voters ranked multiple candidates in at least one race. Out of the eight primary Republican races on the ballot, only two had more than two candidates. Still, 56.6% of Republican voters ranked multiple candidates in at least one race.

Our analysis of ballots cast in the highly competitive Democratic mayoral primary shows that New Yorkers cast an astounding 74,996 different Ranked Choice ballot combinations. More than half of those ballot combinations (38,003) were unique to a single voter. The variety of ballot rankings suggests city voters embraced the opportunity afforded by Ranked Choice Voting to vote for their preferred candidates rather than merely voting strategically.

To understand how extensively voters used Ranked Choice Voting, the CFB developed a "ranking score" which represents the percentage of rankings each voter used compared to the number of ranking slots available to them on their ballot. Overall, the citywide ranking score was 52.0, which means city voters utilized slightly over half of the rankings available to them. The score accounts for rankings that voters made (or didn't make) on all of the races on their primary ballot.

Overall, 0.82% of all voters had a perfect overall ranking score, meaning they made choices for every possible ranking across all city offices they were eligible to vote in. 0.64% of Democrats had a perfect overall ranking score, while 3.7% of Republicans had a perfect overall ranking score.

Using the ranking score data, we found the number of candidates running in a race is the only factor that had a significant impact on the ranking score. At the City Council level, for every additional candidate on the ballot, the ranking score increased by 2.2 points. The CFB anticipates that the ranking score will be a useful tool to compare voter participation in future RCV elections to the 2021 election.

Legislative Recommendations
Language Access

  • Pass the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act of New York to ensure consistent translation and interpretation services.

Early Voting

  • Adopt a more equitable poll site assignment process to improve the voting experience.
  • Implement borough-based vote centers that are more convenient for more voters.
  • Publish timely early voting and poll site data to support voter outreach efforts.

Absentee Voting

  • Pass no-excuse absentee voting restarting the Constitutional amendment process.
  • Create a fully electronic accessible absentee voting system.
  • Revise the absentee ballot request deadline to reduce voter confusion.
  • Update the absentee ballot tracker daily to keep voters informed of the status of their vote.

Voter Registration

  • Streamline registration changes processes into one deadline to simplify the process for voters.
  • Amend State Election Law to reduce the voter registration deadline to ten days before an election.
  • Pass same day voter registration, restarting the Constitutional amendment process.

Ranked Choice Voting Results Reporting

  • Publicize a schedule for ranked choice voting results reporting.
  • Reorganize the cast vote record to aid researchers in analysis.

NYC Votes is the nonpartisan voter engagement initiative of the New York City Campaign Finance Board (CFB) and its Voter Assistance Advisory Committee (VAAC). In addition to promoting voter registration, participation, and civic engagement in New York City through its many programs and partnerships, NYC Votes sponsors the city’s official Debate Program and produces the citywide Voter Guide.