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New York City Campaign Finance Board

Helping all New Yorkers learn about ranked choice voting

The Challenge

Help the New York City Campaign Finance Board introduce ranked choice voting to all New Yorkers ahead of the June 2021 NYC primary.

The Insight

Reimagine the NYC Votes website within a 12-week time frame via a process that facilitates collaboration and quick decision making.

The Solution

An accessible new website with interactive tools designed to help NYC voters get comfortable with a brand new way to vote.

The 2021 New York City primary election was the largest local election in two decades. With every citywide office on the ballot, there were over 500 candidates running.

The New York City Campaign Finance Board (NYCCFB) set out to empower all eligible New Yorkers — over 5.5 million in total — to engage with the 2021 primary election, and specifically sought to support communities who were historically less likely to vote in the past. Through an honest dialogue, expansive educational resources, and an engaging and accessible website, the NYCCFB worked to educate millions of New Yorkers about how their local elections work, why they matter, and how they can get involved.

And, with the City’s adoption of ranked choice voting a new way for voters to express their preferences by ranking up to five candidates for each office on their ballot it was imperative that New Yorkers had simple and reliable information to learn about the new system before voting. 

A reimagined platform

The NYCCFB reached out to Blue State to create a new, interactive, and accessible website. We led the user experience, visual design process, and detailed the product requirements. Our partner, Phases, implemented the site with Umbraco CMS. By instituting an agile framework from design to launch for rapid collaboration and decision making, we facilitated the participation of a number of City stakeholders. 

"Before" and "after" images of the NYC Votes website.
The NYC Votes website before and after launch.

We helped reimagine the NYC Votes website to ensure that every New Yorker can find answers to all of their questions about the upcoming elections. The site also allows voters to learn about the offices that are up for election, voter registration deadlines, the candidates they can vote for, and opportunities to volunteer and get involved in the electoral process. The design is strategically cohesive, concise, and straightforward in an effort to streamline this vital information.

2021 is the first year New York City is using ranked choice voting in primary elections for city offices, so having a library of content that focused specifically on teaching New Yorkers about this new way of voting was crucial. 

Practice makes perfect

To really make sure the message sticks, we let potential voters have a go at it! An interactive practice ballot provides voters an opportunity to see firsthand what a correct, and incorrect, ranked choice ballot looks like.

Eligible voters have the opportunity to fill out a practice ranked choice ballot.

Once site visitors have practiced filling out their ballot, they can click through a demo of how the votes will be counted once voting is closed on Election Day. 

Here, voters can see how votes are counted in rounds.

For all New Yorkers

A key element to this project was ensuring that the website would be accessible for all who visited – and clearly outline the different types of support New York City provides for voters who need help filling out their ballot due to disability or limited English proficiency. 

Like several of the sites Blue State has created for New York City, this site is available in multiple languages – English, Spanish, Traditional Chinese, Korean, and Bengali – and also supports WCAG 2.0 Level AA accessibility, which is Blue State’s recommended standard for all websites.


An overlay of screenshots of the NYCCFB website in all five languages supported on the website: English, Spanish, Korean, Bengali, and Chinese.
All five languages supported on the website.

Stronger together

This project was a true collaborative effort from start to finish. We’re proud to have joined forces with the brilliant folks over at the Center for Civic Design, Big Duck, Pentagram, and Phases to bring the mission and brand to life.

In particular, we worked closely with Phases, who are expert Umbraco engineers, the CMS used to build the site. Blue State led the user experience and visual design process and detailed the product requirements, and Phases led the development process, including front-end development, implementation with the Umbraco CMS, and coordination with the Campaign Finance Board’s Systems Team on the Azure-based deployment.

Blue State did an incredible job helping us meet a once-in-a-generation opportunity to engage New Yorkers in local elections. We went from kickoff to launch in about three months. They didn’t short-change the process, though: facilitating workshops that helped us prioritize and build consensus, remaining flexible in the face of unexpected barriers and challenges, and creating a site that is both attractive and useful, in partnership with a developer that specializes in our CMS, Umbraco. I’m excited to see what more we’ll accomplish together before the general election in the fall.”

Charlotte Levitt, Director of Marketing & Digital Communications at New York City Campaign Finance Board

From a new logo and graphic identity, to user research, to website development, we all came together with one goal in mind: Help all New Yorkers vote and have their voice be heard.

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