Greens Call for IRV, Proportional Representation Voting for NYC

Howie Hawkins for Governor – Gloria Mattera for Lt. Governor

Media Release -

For Immediate Release: July 19, 2010

For More Info:
Gloria Mattera, 917 886-4538
Howie Hawkins, 315 425-1019
Mark Dunlea 518 860-3725


The Green Party candidates for Governor and Lt. Governor urged the NYC Charter Commission to include preferential voting - also known as Instant Runoff Voting - for all single member elections.


The Greens also urged the Charter Commission to adopt proportional representation for City Council elections. Proposal representation, the election system used by almost all of the world's democracies, allocates seats in legislative bodies based on the percentage of votes that each party represents. The Greens said proportional representation would be far more democratic than Bloomberg's push for non-partisan elections. While the Greens would benefit from non-partisan elections, since the Greens win about a third of the non-partisan elections they enter nationwide, they also said that in NYC it would greatly benefit rich, self-financed candidates like Bloomberg. The three current Green Party Mayors in New York were elected in nonpartisan village elections.


"Despite what we are taught in school, our present system of winner-take-all (plurality) elections actually makes the US once of the least democratic democracies in the world. Combined with our lack of strong public campaign finance laws and lack of equal access to the media, our electoral system produces two right-of-center political parties dominated by special interest funding. Voters too often are forced into defensive voting, casting their votes for the lesser-of-two-evil candidates rather than voting for the candidate they most want. In single member elections such as for Mayor, preferential voting eliminates the lesser-of-two-evil problem," said Gloria Mattera, a Park Slope resident who is the Green Party nominee for Lt. Governor. Mattera also pointed out that IRV voting would also save the City tens of millions of dollars by avoiding special runoff elections when city or borough wide candidates fail to get 40% of the vote in primaries. The city was forced to spend $15 million, during a serious financial crisis, to pay for the 2009 double run-off elections (Public Advocate & Comptroller). The Green Party worked a number of years ago with Sen. Liz Krueger, after she was elected to the State Senate on the Green and Democrat lines, to introduce state legislation to establish instant run off voting. The current system of plurality voting often results in the election of a candidate that does not have the majority support of the electorate when there are three or more candidates involved. Further, where there are three or more candidates for an elective office, voters often make the choice to not vote for their preferred candidate to avoid "wasting" their vote or worry they are supporting a "spoiler". Rather, they will vote against a candidate they dislike, by voting for a leading candidate that they perceive as the lesser of two evils. The result of the current system in multi-candidate races can be the election of candidates that lack majority support.


Robert's Rules of Order (RRO), the well-known guide to fair procedures, makes the point that an election by a mere plurality may produce an unrepresentative result. It recommends voting methods that can determine a majority winner when electing single-seat offices.


The instant runoff voting method provides for the majority election for elective offices. Instant runoff voting gives voters the option to rank candidates according to the order of their choice. If no candidate obtains a majority of first-choice votes, then the candidate receiving the fewest first-choice votes is eliminated. Each vote cast for the eliminated candidate shall be transferred to the candidate who was the voter's next choice on the ballot. The process is continued until a candidate receives a majority of votes.


IRV increases voter turnout, encourages more candidates to run for office, promotes positive issue-based campaigns, and discourages mudslinging among candidates who are competing for second- and third-place votes from each others’ supporters.


If IRV had existed in the NYC Mayoral race in 2001, Mark Green would have avoided the contentious runoff after the delayed September 21st primary. The battle between Green and Fernando Ferrer cost tax payers millions of dollars while increasing racial tensions. Avoiding the runoff would possibly have changed the outcome of the general election with Bloomberg.


Howie Hawkins, the Green Party nominee for Governor, added, "We support proportional representation. With proportional representation every party gets representation in proportion to the votes they receive. This will end the single-member-district, plurality-wins-all system that encourages defensive voting for the lesser of two evils and thus preserves the two-corporate-party duopoly."


The Greens noted that an additional benefit of proportional representation is that in increases diversity, including from communities of color.

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