A subversion of democracy. A brazen attempt to overturn the will of voters. Modern-day voter suppression. An 11th-hour bid to cling to power.
These are all charges Democrats have leveled against President Donald Trump as he’s challenged the results of the election that will force him from office. They’re all also accusations Democrats have hurled at one another in New York City over the past few weeks, in a bitter fight over how the city’s voters will choose a successor to Mayor Bill de Blasio next year.
A year ago, New Yorkers approved a referendum to use ranked-choice voting for the municipal elections in 2021. It was not a close vote: Ranked-choice voting won by a nearly three-to-one margin, making the Big Apple by far the nation’s most populous jurisdiction to adopt a system that allows voters to list candidates in order of preference rather than just choose one. New York would join Maine and the cities of San Francisco, Oakland, and Minneapolis, among others, in moving to ranked-choice voting. Citizens in Alaska voted last month to approve the format as part of a package of political reforms.
Just two months before the system’s initial test run, however, a group of Democrats opposed to the format—including the majority leader of the New York City Council and the leaders of its Black, Latino, and Asian Caucus—sued to halt the introduction of ranked-choice voting. They drew backing from a prominent mayoral contender, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, in arguing that a city that struggles to administer elections in the best of times was unprepared to educate voters on a complicated new system in the middle of a pandemic.