By Alison Markman
New York City, New York
New Yorkers cast their ballots for the next mayor of New York City on June 22. For the first time in history, these ballots were ranked by choice. Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams was declared the winner of the Democratic primary on July 6.
There were concerns about the transition to the ranked-choice voting system, but the election was considered a success. In addition, primary turnout was the highest it has ever been in 20 years.
Before employing the ranked-choice system, Eric Adams was in the lead with 31.7 percent of the vote. Behind him was Maya Wiley with 22.3 percent. Following Wiley was Kathryn Garcia with 19.5 percent of the vote. Andrew Yang, the candidate in fourth, conceded after a poor performance. However, these numbers are solely votes cast early or on election day—absentee ballots are not included.
The Board of Elections caused chaos in NYC on Tuesday after they removed the results of the first report of ranked-choice voting results, citing a “discrepancy.” The BOE later explained it did not remove sample ballots used to test its ranked-choice software. The tabulations included “both test and election night results, producing approximately 135,000 additional records,” which is what the statement expressed.
Despite the BOE expressing that the new counts are based solely off the 800,000 votes cast on Election day, Adams filed a suit requesting a judge to oversee the tabulations.
When new and accurate results were released on June 30, Adams' lead shrunk, and Kathryn Garcia moved into second place. After the first round of results, Maya Wiley moved down to third place and was eliminated, trailing only 347 votes behind Garcia.
In a ranked-choice voting system, low polling candidates are eliminated and their votes are reallocated until someone receives the 50% of the vote necessary to win.
In addition, over 117,000 ballots became inactive because voters ranked candidates that had all been eliminated from the race.
Wiley, who was eliminated in this tabulation, issued a statement saying she believed there was still a path to victory: “With more than 120,000 absentee ballots left to count—in addition to provisional ballots and potential recanvassing of results—this election is still wide open.”
Adams, who held his lead by tighter margins, also issued a statement saying, “there are still absentee ballots to be counted that we believe favor Eric … and we are confident we will be the final choice of New Yorkers when every vote is tallied.”
The Garcia campaign also released a memo explaining why they believe the absentee ballots will go in their favor. She was able to advance in the race because she was many voters' second choice candidate, which is the exact point of ranked-choice voting.
Nevertheless, it was the absentee ballots that decided the results of this election.
The election was called on Tuesday, July 6, as a win for Eric Adams. After 118,000 of the absentee votes have been counted, Adams maintained a margin of 8,400 votes. Both Garcia and Wiley have already conceded the race, and Adams is set to face republican Curtis Sliwa in the general election in November.