Democracy in New York, NY

I recently wrote about the importance of Ranked Choice Voting and began doing my homework on what I can do to get it passed in my local community. While I was buoyed by the recent success in Maine, where they passed an amendment for RCV this last election cycle (source), I was disappointed to learn it took 15 years of preparation and lobbying (source).

It took a few hours of research, but I pieced together a good idea of who represents me, as a resident of Manhattan, from the National down to the Local level.

NYC Representatives

Each elected post here, is chosen by a process called First-Past-The-Post which is your basic “pick one candidate, and the person with the most wins.” From here I dug into the elections for each and found that there were two major groupings of these. The State and National elections are ruled by laws provided in the NYS Constitution, whereas the City and Borough elections are ruled by laws provided in the NYC Administrative Code.

How it works at the City Level

Starting local, my question becomes how does change occur in the NYC Administrative Code (they have a terrible website which cannot be deep-linked, but find it here). The process goes like this.

  1. Find your Senator and propose your change
  2. Hope

The second step is “hope” because it is now out of your hands. You can try to rally more people to bug that Senator and if enough do, it will hopefully rise in priority until he/she decides to take action. The following steps are out of your control as a citizen, but are the steps required for change to come into effect.

How a bill becomes a law (source)

  1. Senator writes a Bill
  2. Senator submits Bill to a Committee
  3. Committee is a step intended to filter out bills that will never pass. If committee thinks it has a chance, they submit it to the Senate.
  4. The Senate votes on the bill, if passed, it goes to the Assembly Committee
  5. If the Assembly Committee likes it, they pass it to the Assembly
  6. The Assembly votes on it, if passed, it goes to the NYS Governor
  7. The Governor signs or vetoes the Bill

What more can I do?

I’m still working this part out. The more I understand, the more daunting it seems. Any individual can make a difference, but things move faster the more people who are involved. If you’d like to join forces with other NY’ers who are fighting for Ranked Choice Voting, please contact me. We have a weekly 30 minute conference call to collaborate and share news/updates, and we’d love to have you join!

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