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oped letters & comments
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voting is a vital
BY BETSY GOTBAUM
AND ROSE PIERRE-LOUIS
Last fall, New York City voters decided they
had enough of politics as usual, and voted overwhelmingly
to approve ranked-choice voting.
Rather than just choosing one candidate on
their ballot, voters will now be able to rank up to
fi ve candidates in order of their preference. If no
candidate wins a majority of fi rst-place votes, the
candidate with the fewest fi rst-place votes is eliminated.
On the ballots that have the eliminated
candidate ranked fi rst, the vote now goes to the
candidate who was ranked second. Th is continues
until one candidate has a majority of the vote.
Already implemented in several cities across
the country, this reform will foster more positive,
issue-focused campaigns, give voters more
choice, and force candidates to appeal to a
broader spectrum of their constituents. It will
also mean the end of costly, low-turnout runoff
Ranked-choice voting would be a major
change to the way we conduct elections, and
meaningful reform is always met with trepidation.
Some elected offi cials are calling for the
implementation of ranked-choice voting to be
delayed, claiming that there isn’t enough time
to educate voters about this reform, particularly
in a global pandemic.
Th e Campaign Finance Board should conduct
a robust public education to prepare voters
for next year’s elections, and the City Council
should allocate the funding needed for that
campaign. Because voters were concentrating
on the 2020 elections, it would have been
impossible to inform them about an election
Th ere are also claims that ranked-choice voting
would further disadvantage groups historically
underrepresented in elected offi ce. Th e
truth is, there is evidence to suggest that women
and people of color actually have better electoral
outcomes under ranked-choice voting.
A 2020 study by RepresentWomen found
that 46 percent of all mayors and 49 percent
of all City Council seats decided by rankedchoice
voting are held by women. A 2019
study from FairVote examining San Francisco,
Oakland, San Leandro and Berkeley – four
racially diverse cities in the Bay Area -– shows
that the adoption of ranked-choice voting in
those municipalities has led to more people of
color winning elections.
Ranked-choice voting will ensure that the
voices of all of New York City’s diverse communities
are heard. At a time when we are bitterly
divided, we need to begin to improve the tone
of our politics. Th is reform passed with the support
of 73 percent of New York City voters just
last year. Ranked-choice voting is as vital a democratic
reform now as it was when New Yorkers
overwhelmingly voted to implement it over a
year ago, and the city has an obligation to fulfi ll
the will of the voters.
Betsy Gotbaum is the executive director of
Citizens Union and the former NYC Public
Advocate. Rose Pierre-Louis is the chief operating
offi cer of the NYU McSilver Institute and the
former Manhattan Deputy Borough President.
WE MUST CONTINUE
TO AMPLIFY VOICES
OF ALL WOMEN
Th e weeks leading up to the 2021
presidential inauguration were fraught,
and at times, frightening. Taken together,
the growing number of COVID-19
related deaths and the violent insurrection
at the Capitol have cast a shadow
over our nation.
Yet we at Women Creating Change
remain hopeful as we look to the future
— a future where women of all backgrounds
have a voice in their communities
and country. If participation
in the 2020 election is any indication,
there is a hunger for civic engagement
opportunities and ways to get involved,
and women are at the forefront.
More than 159 million Americans
voted in the 2020 election, the largest
total voter turnout in U.S. history.
Turnout in New York City increased
by 7.5 percent from 2016 to 2020. Th e
117th Congress will have a record
total of 141 women, and a record 51
women of color will serve. And of
course, the election of Kamala Harris,
the daughter of immigrants, to serve
as our vice president represents not
only an achievement for women and
people of color in this country, but
for all who have been passionately
engaged in making our society more
Even so, we have a lot of work to do
in terms of electing women to offi ce,
especially women of color, and breaking
down systemic barriers to ensure
women’s voices are heard. Th e inauguration
marks the beginning of new
leadership, but no matter who sits in
our nation’s highest offi ce, we must
hold them accountable. Together we
must continue to amplify the voices
of all women to ensure our society is
equitable and just.
Carole Wacey, president and
CEO, and Deborah Martin
Owens, board chair
Women Creating Change
UFT STANDS FOR ‘UNION
Th e failure of NYC’s Department of
Education to reopen all public schools
for in-person learning shows who
really runs our school system: United
Federation of Teachers (UFT) leader
Mayor Bill de Blasio and Chancellor
Richard Carranza bow to a petty tyrant
with political clout.
Mulgrew blocked the return of onsite
learning last fall, then imposed an
arbitrary 3 percent COVID infection
rate threshold to reopen schools from
pre-K to fi ft h grade.
Now, he wants all 75,000 teachers
vaccinated before middle and high
schools can resume in-person learning
even though vaccine supply is limited.
He needs a dose of hard reality.
Online instruction is called remote
learning because students have only a
remote chance of learning anything. It
impairs their academic progress, social
skills and mental health. Th at’s why
many parents have pulled their kids out
of public schools and enrolled them in
schools and other private institutions
off ering in-person instruction to
all students fi ve days a week. NYC’s
Department of Education disclosed
that public school enrollment dropped
by 43,000 students since September
Mulgrew’s obstinate attitude hurts
students, parents and teachers who are
denied the opportunity to do their job.
Th anks to him, UFT really stands for
Union Fails Teachers.
Richard Reif, Kew Gardens Hills