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WHO WE ARE
Final Five Voting NYC is a movement fueled by New Yorkers for Competitive Elections, a New York City-based non-partisan advocacy organization. We're building a grassroots movement to make our city’s elections more democratic through the adoption of Final Five Voting. We are proudly led by a growing coalition of local political, community, and business leaders and organizations from all five boroughs and across the political spectrum.
What is Final Five Voting?
Final Five Voting is a combination of two innovative election reforms:
1. A single non-partisan, open preliminary election in June in which all candidates and voters participate regardless of their political party registration.
2. The top five vote-getters advance to an instant runoff (Ranked Choice Voting) general election in November.
THE PROBLEM - CLOSED PRIMARIES
Have you noticed that our representatives are farther right and left than the majority of Americans?
Source: Unite America
That's because our representatives are chosen in low-turnout closed primaries.
In most jurisdictions across the United States (for example, 85% of Congressional districts), the Primary Election effectively decides who will win the General Election.
Here in NYC, that means that our elected officials are often selected by only 10%-20% of voters.
Over 1 million voters in New York City can't vote in our closed party primary elections. That's nearly 25% of all eligible voters!
Final Five Voting will enable these people to do what voters are supposed to do: vote!
WATCH: Senator Lisa Murkowski explains how this voting system works better for Alaskans, where it was implemented in 2020.
Why do we need Final Five Voting?Partisanship and extremism dominates our political system right now. Why? It's because the majority of our elected officials aren't actually elected by the voters in November. Rather, they're elected in closed party primaries, in which only the most devoted party members and far right & left voters reliably participate. The two candidates that that small slice of the population chose are then sent on to the General Election, and voters are too often faced with the task of electing "the lesser of two evils." Right now there are over one million independent voters — about a quarter of all registered voters — in New York City who can not participate in primary elections because they are registered with neither the Democratic nor Republican parties. Since the vast majority of our city’s elections are decided during the primaries, these one million independent voters ostensibly have zero voice in selecting their representatives. In order for truly fair elections in which all voters have a voice, we need to allow EVERYONE to vote in Primary Elections. That's what Final Five Voting is fighting for!
How is Final-Five Voting different from ranked-choice voting?Final-Five Voting is the combination of two innovations: 1. A single open primary in which we don’t use ranked-choice voting (RCV) 2. RCV general elections between the top five candidates who got the most votes in the primary. FFV’s power to increase the likelihood that City Hall solves problems in the public interest comes from the combination of the two. On its own, RCV is dramatically less impactful because it simply doesn’t fix the incentives for problem-solving that are created by party primaries. As such, Final Five Voting is not synonymous with ranked-choice voting.
Why five candidates?We want enough candidates in the general election for healthy, diverse competition but not so many that it’s confusing to the voter. Five is the “sweet spot” number. Five creates space for three more than the current system and, as a result, lowers the “barriers to entry” (i.e., how hard it is and how much it costs to qualify for the general election) to make it easier for new competition to enter the race. Five increases the likelihood that innovative ideas, diverse candidates, and issue-focused candidates (those who may run to bring visibility to an issue) will enter the race and create a dynamic debate between the primary and the general. We cap it at five because with more than that it becomes substantively more difficult for voters to meaningfully distinguish between and develop opinions on a laundry list of candidates, and because we want to minimize the likelihood of what political scientists term “ballot exhaustion,” in which voters don’t rank all the candidates.
What’s the difference between a closed & open primary?In a closed primary election, only voters registered with that party can participate. In a traditional Open Primary, registered voters are allowed to choose which primary to vote in on election day, regardless of whether they are a registered member of a party or not. The winner of each primary then goes to the general election. Our proposal is slightly different. With Final Five Voting, all registered voters in New York City will be able to vote in a single open primary (or "preliminary" election) with all the candidates on one ballot. No one will have to choose a party's ballot, eliminating a common problem in Open Primaries: members of one party voting in the opposing party's primary to spoil the other party's election. Instead, all voters will simply vote for who they think is the best candidate, and the top 5 vote-getters will move on to the General Election.
Do other cities and states use Final Five Voting?Yes! Alaska recently implemented a version of Final Five Voting called Final Four Voting (in which four candidates advance to the general election rather than five). In the November 2022 Midterms, the voters of Nevada voted to enact Final Five Voting statewide. There are similar grassroots movements in Georgia, Wisconsin, and parts of California to implement Final Five Voting. Here in New York City, we have the opportunity to be one of the first cities to implement it, upholding our City's tradition of leading the way for the rest of the country.
Will Final-Five Voting help one party more than the other?Final Five Voting is not a trojan horse for partisan advantage—its implementation doesn’t benefit one “side” more than the other. Final Five Voting is not designed to change who wins. It’s designed to change what the winners have the freedom to do and are incentivized to do—and on whose behalf they’re doing it. Final Five Voting will reward candidates and parties that run the best campaigns, appeal to the most voters in the general election (not just to party primary voters as is the case in the current system) and do a better job of governing once in office.
What’s FFV NYC’s plan?We plan to begin circulating a petition in early 2024 for a ballot initiative to have New York City's Board of Elections implement Final Five Voting in 2025. This will give our voters a direct say in the decision to utilize Final Five Voting or not. In the lead-up to the 2024 election, we aim to educate voters, political leaders, and organizations about Final Five Voting while building our grassroots coalition.
BUILDING A BETTER CITY FOR ALL OF US.
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