Special election approaches Feb. 23 in New York City Council District 31

The special general election for New York City Council District 31 is on February 23, 2021. Nine candidates are competing in the special election. The filing deadline to run passed on December 16, 2020. 

The special election was called when Donovan Richards left office after he was elected Queens Borough President in November. Richards served on the city council from 2013 to 2020.

The February 23 election will be the second election in New York City to use a ranked-choice voting system. 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, but the decision is being appealed.  

The New York City Council consists of 51 members. New York is the largest city by population in the U.S.

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