Candidates interested in running in the special elections for New York City Council Districts 11 and 15 have until January 19, 2021, to file. The general election is scheduled for March 23.
The special election in District 11 was called after Andrew Cohen (D) won the November election for New York Supreme Court 12th Judicial District. Cohen served on the council from 2013 to 2021.
In District 15, the special election was called when Ritchie Torres (D) was elected to represent New York’s 15th Congressional District in the U.S. House. Torres served from 2013 to 2021.
In 2019, New Yorkers passed a ballot measure that instituted ranked-choice voting in special elections to local offices. In ranked-choice voting, voters rank candidates by preference on their ballots. If a candidate wins a majority of first-preference votes, he or she is declared the winner. If no candidate wins a majority of first-preference votes, the candidate with the fewest first-preference votes is eliminated. First preference votes cast for the failed candidate are eliminated, lifting the second-preference choices indicated on those ballots. A new tally is conducted to determine whether any candidate has won a majority of the adjusted votes. The process is repeated until a candidate wins an outright majority.
Ranked-choice voting in New York City is the subject of an ongoing court challenge. On December 16, 2020, a state trial court declined to block the implementation of ranked-choice voting in a February city council special election. The decision is currently being appealed.
The New York City Council consists of 51 members. New York is the largest city by population in the U.S.