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NYC voters approve ranked choice voting

The measure will take effect in 2021.

The measure will take effect in 2021. Credit: LightRocket via Getty Images/SOPA Images

New York City residents have voted to adopt a ranked voting system for primaries and special elections.

The measure that passed Tuesday will take effect in 2021 and covers the offices of mayor, public advocate, city comptroller, borough president and city council.

Under the new system, voters will rank their choices from 1 to 5. Second- and third-place votes will help determine the result if no candidate wins at least 50% of first-place votes.

Supporters of ranked voting say it forces candidates to broaden their appeal beyond their own base so they'll be chosen second by voters who like another candidate best.

Opponents say the system is confusing and can hurt the chances of minority candidates.

Cities including San Francisco and Minneapolis already use ranked voting.

Also on Tuesday, Jumaane Williams was reelected New York City public advocate.

The 43-year-old Democrat defeated Republican Joseph Borelli and Libertarian Devin Balkind for the seat.

Williams beat 18 other candidates in a Feb. 26 special election that was held after Letitia James was elected New York attorney general.

Williams is a former New York City Council member known for his activism on behalf of causes including immigrant rights and affordable housing.

The public advocate job was created in 1993 and is intended as a sort of city ombudsman. The position carries vaguely defined duties but is seen as a steppingstone to higher office.

The public advocate serves as mayor if the mayor dies or becomes incapacitated.

In another major race in New York City Tuesday, Democrat Melinda Katz won election as the next district attorney of Queens.

The Queens Borough president will take over a post left vacant by the death of longtime prosecutor Richard Brown.

Katz defeated Joseph Murray in Tuesday's election. He is a Democrat running on the Republican ballot line.

The victory was anticlimactic after Katz's seesaw win over public defender Tiffany Cabán in the Democratic primary.

Cabán led by more than 1,000 votes the night of the June 25 primary, but Katz emerged victorious by a thin margin after absentee ballots were counted.

Katz is 54. She is a veteran politician who served in the state Assembly from 1994 to 1999 and on the New York City Council from 2002 to 2009.

Brown held the office from 1991 until his death in May.

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