NEW YORK—The votes are in. The polls are closed. But the top contenders may have a long, anxious wait ahead of them for results in New York City’s mayoral primary, the first citywide election to use ranked choice voting.
With the debut of the ranked voting system and a mountain of absentee ballots still at least a week away from being counted, it could be July before a winner emerges in the Democratic contest.
As results trickled in, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams was in a tight race with Kathryn Garcia, a former city sanitation commissioner, and Maya Wiley, a former Mayor Bill de Blasio administration lawyer. Former presidential candidate Andrew Yang was further back.
After polls closed at 9 p.m., New York City’s Board of Elections began releasing results of votes cast in person, but that initial picture could be misleading because it will only include data on who candidates ranked as their first choice.
The ranked choice system, approved for use in New York City primaries and special elections by referendum in 2019, allowed voters to rank up to five candidates on their ballot.
Vote tabulation is then done in computerized rounds, with the person in last place getting eliminated each round, and ballots cast for that person getting redistributed to the surviving candidates based on voter rankings. That process continues until only two candidates are left. The one with the most votes wins.
It won’t be until June 29 that the Board of Elections performs a tally of those votes using the new system. It won’t include any absentee ballots in its analysis until July 6, making any count before then potentially unreliable.
More than 87,000 absentee ballots had been received by the city as of Monday, with more expected to arrive in the mail over the next few days.
Besides Adams, Garcia, Wiley and Yang, other contenders in the Democratic contest include City Comptroller Scott Stringer, former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan, former Citigroup executive Ray McGuire and nonprofit executive Dianne Morales.
Stringer, McGuire and Morales addressed supporters after polls closed as early returns showed them trailing the front-runners.
De Blasio, a Democrat, leaves office at the end of the year due to term limits.
In the Republican primary, Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa defeated businessman Fernando Mateo. Ranked choice voting wasn’t a factor because there were only two candidates in the race.
Sliwa does not have much of a chance to win the November general election in a city where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by 7 to 1.
Sliwa, a radio host who still wears his red Guardian Angels beret when he appears in public, got an endorsement from former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who called him “my great friend” in a robocall to Republican voters.
Flanked by Giuliani at his victory party, Sliwa promised a general election campaign focused on crime. “This is going to be a campaign clearly in which I talk about cracking down on crime, supporting the police, refunding our heroes the police, hiring more police, taking the handcuffs off the police and putting it on the criminals, and restoring qualified immunity to the police so that they can’t be personally sued,” he said.
By Karen Matthews