As a naturalized citizen since age fifteen, I am ashamed to admit that I’ve only become politically engaged a few years ago. I was then discouraged to learn that our democracy is actualized in partisan elections. Without declaring as a Democrat or Republican, you cannot vote in primary elections. About 1.2 million New Yorkers are unaffiliated with a party and cannot participate in our city’s closed primaries.
In NYC, we have sevenfold Democrats to Republicans. City Council and Mayoral races are decided in low-turnout closed primaries. In fact, most of our city’s elected officials are chosen by only 10-20% of voters.
The recent adoption of Ranked Choice Voting in our city’s local elections was a step forward and has given voters more choices to have their say. However, Rank Choice Voting is only used in our closed primaries, thus denying general election voters from experiencing its benefits. Fortunately, there is a powerful new election reform that addresses these problems — Final Five Voting.
Final Five Voting is a combination of two election reforms:
- A single open primary where all registered voters can vote for any candidate regardless of party affiliation. Every candidate (regardless of party) appears on a single primary ballot, and all voters can participate in the primary regardless of party registration. The top five winners advance to the general election.
- A Ranked Choice Voting general election among the top five winners of the primary. Voters have the option to rank up to five candidates in order of preference. A process of instant runoffs narrows the field to the top two candidates, and majority wins.
Final Five Voting ensures all voters have an equal voice and can fully participate in our entire election process. It rewards candidates with the appeal to the majority of voters, rather than those who run to partisan extremes as our current system does. Final Five Voting has already been implemented in Alaska and is being considered in Nevada, California, Georgia, and several other states and cities nationwide. It’s time for New York City to consider Final Five Voting and join in this much needed election reform.
Yiatin Chu, is president of Asian Wave Alliance, and advisor to Final Five Voting.