The new ranked-choice voting system in New York City was put into to use in determining the winner of a February 23rd race for city council member in Southeast Queens.
In the first round, Selvena Brooks-Powers had about 38% of the vote while Orthodox candidate Pesach Osina had about 35% in the nine-candidate race. After the second round, Brooks-Powers was declared victor and Osina conceded.
In a letter to his supporters, Osina thanked “everyone who believed in me and supported my candidacy by voting for me, by volunteering for my campaign, and would also like to thank my staff who assisted me to run a great campaign.”
He said he was consulting with his advisors to “map out the next steps defining what the future holds…see you all soon.”
As it was a special election, Brooks-Powers will have to run again in the June 22d primary.
The special election for the 31st City Council seat came after former Councilman Donovan Richards was elected Queens Borough President.
None of the candidates running in the special election received at least 50% of the votes in the first round, prompting the election workers to count voters’ second choices for the office.
Under the ranked-choice voting system, voters chose as many or as few candidates they like, and list them in order of preference. If no one person outright wins a 50% majority, the Board of Elections moves the race to Round Two. The person with the least votes will be knocked out, and the people who voted for that person as their first-place choice will have their second choices counted, and added to the count of those candidates. The process of removing the person with the least votes and redistributing their votes continues until a candidate passes the 50% threshold.
All other New Yorkers will vote by ranked-choice for the first time during the June primaries, including the nominees for mayor.
A previous city council election in Queens did not utilize the ranked-choice system because candidate James Gennaro won more than 50% of the votes.
Updated Thursday, March 18, 2021 at 2:23 pm .