Ranked-Choice Voting, Explained With Ice Cream

Ranked-Choice Voting, Explained With Ice Cream

Ranked-choice voting. You’ve heard a lot about it. Maybe you’ve read a lot about it, too. But even if you understand the election reform that will be used this month to determine New York City’s local primaries, including the primary for mayor, explaining it can be difficult. This is why we decided to break down the complicated voting system predicated on candidate eliminations, voter reallocation, and rounds of automatic recounts into something that’s a little easier to get your head — or hands — around: delicious ice cream.

Imagine, if you will, multiple candidates  running in the ice cream primary to be mayor of Dessert Town. Now, Dessert Town has been staunchly strawberry going back to the early 20th century, so naturally most of these candidates are running on a pro-strawberry platform. But there’s one candidate trying to install a government based around rum raisin ice cream. This candidate’s loyal, contrarian followers are devoted to overturning strawberry rule, and in a traditional election they could very well make it happen. The strawberry-loving populace could split its votes among several like-minded candidates, giving the rum raisin candidate a win in the election despite being opposed by a strong majority of voters.

Does this sound like representative democracy to you?

Check out the video above to understand how ranked-choice voting protects against this type of situation, and why the popular new reform ensures that a strawberry-loving public will be able to elect a strawberry-loving candidate.