The Big Apple’s mayoral primary raises the question of whether the political elite can learn from their mistakes.
New York held its mayoral primary election June 22, one that featured a slew of Democratic candidates.
Who won? Well, who can say?
New Yorkers will find out one day in the not-too-distant future — maybe.
Why is that? The New York Times reports that what was a chaotic campaign has sunk into an even more chaotic vote count that has descended into “fresh uncertainty.”
The city’s electoral status quo is the perfect recipe for more cynicism, suspicion and disbelief among city voters who deserve much better.
On election night, it appeared that Eric Adams, a Black former police officer and Brooklyn borough president, had a commanding lead over his rivals.
But the counting was just beginning, because the initial votes don’t count as much as most people think they do — and should.
The problem is the city’s new ranked-choice voting system. All the best people promised that it was a wonderful idea and would lead to the election of mainstream candidates with broad appeal rather than fringe candidates who might actually finish first in the race.
Here’s how the ranked-choice plan works. Voters cast ballots by ranking the candidates in terms of their preferences.
If no candidate gets 50 percent of the vote, the winner is determined by a process of elimination. As each of the lower-polling candidates is eliminated, according to the news reports, “their votes are re-allocated to whichever candidate those voters ranked next, and the process continues until there is a winner.”
What was supposed to be simple in theory has proved to be excruciating in reality, particularly since the election authorities’ bungling has further complicated the counting process.
“New York City Rescinds Unofficial Mayoral Race Results After Including 150,000 Test Ballots.”
That’s just one of the scathing headlines documenting the ongoing fiasco involving what ought to be — and usually is — the not-so-difficult task of counting votes. Of course, when variables are introduced into the process, the easy can become extremely difficult.
One wonders why any of this is necessary. New Yorkers have been electing mayors for decades. The city has held runoff elections to ensure that voters had a second vote in case no candidate collected more than 50 percent.
Here’s something else to ponder — what will Black voters think if, as may happen, the Black candidate who had a strong lead on election night comes out a loser after weeks of fiddling with the numbers? Would they be wrong to be suspicious? Not hardly.
Ranked-choice voting is one of those dumb ideas that has been embraced by good-government types who were sold a bill of goods by those seeking to manipulate the process to generate the kind of results they embrace.
Let New York City’s experience serve as a warning to all those who seek to export this political cancer elsewhere. It’s a failed experiment, a classic case of good intentions leading to disastrous results.