Ranked-Choice Votes to Be Re-Done - Josh Loe

Ranked-Choice Votes to Be Re-Done


  • New York City voters are selecting Democratic and Republican nominees for mayor. 
  • New York is using ranked-choice voting for the first time, so the winner may not be known for weeks.
  • Eric Adams’ initial lead was cut down by Kathryn Garcia and Maya Wiley.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

New York City officials have retracted the most recent vote count and the first set of ranked-choice vote tabulations for the city’s mayoral race after accidentally including 135,000 dummy test votes in the ranked-choice runoff tallies it conducted and released on Tuesday. 

The Board of Elections removed the previous results from the first set of ranked-choice runoff rounds from its website and announced in a statement late Tuesday night that it will re-upload the election night results (which include in-person votes and no absentee ballots so far), re-generate the cast vote record, and re-tally ranked-choice rounds. 

Unofficial and incomplete election night results only had Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams holding a commanding lead, followed by former New York City Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia, and civil rights attorney Maya Wiley.

The Board of Elections ran the first round of ranked-choice voting based on the results of in-person votes only. These results will remain incomplete and unofficial, however, since the over 124,000 absentee ballots cast in the Democratic primary won’t yet counted and factored into the tally until later on.

Voters went to the polls through June 22 to pick Democratic and Republican nominees for mayor in the race to succeed Mayor Bill de Blasio, who is term-limited.

The winner of the crowded Democratic primary field will be the favorite in November’s general election, with Democrats heavily outnumbering registered Republicans across the five boroughs.

Ranked-choice voting is being used for the first time in the city’s history for these races, complicating predictions and the logistics of counting the votes.

Shortly before 11 p.m. on the night of June 22, former presidential candidate Andrew Yang conceded in a speech in front of supporters.

“I am not going to be the next Mayor of New York City,” Yang said, sitting in fourth place.

Here are the unofficial, ranked tenth-round election results that show how the candidates stand before absentee and provisional ballots are added to the tally:

A voter receives her ballot in New York City's June 22 mayoral election

A voter receives her ballot at Frank McCourt High School, in New York, Tuesday, June 22, 2021.

Richard Drew/AP


Why we may not know the winner for two more weeks. 

While tabulating ranked-choice votes is done via software and is not particularly arduous on its own, it’s taking weeks to know the final results of the mayor’s race because of New York’s procedures for counting absentee ballots.

New York is continuing to allow voters to vote absentee due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and state law allows a lot of time for ballots to be accepted and mistakes with voters’ ballots to be rectified. 

Absentee ballots are accepted through June 29 as long as they’re postmarked by Election Day, and voters have another week on top of that to fix or “cure” issues, like missing signatures on the outer envelopes of their ballots, under a new state law. Military and overseas absentee ballots postmarked by Election Day are also accepted through July 5. 

Then, ranked-choice voting comes into play. In the mayoral, borough president, and city council races, voters have the option to rank up to five candidates in order of their preference after New York City voters approved a ballot initiative to enact ranked-choice voting in 2019. 

Ranked-choice voting ensures that the candidate who eventually wins does so with a majority of the vote. 

Since no candidate won over 50% of the vote outright in the Democratic mayoral primary, the votes earned by the candidate who comes in last place are redistributed up to the next-best performing candidate. The process then continues up the chain until one candidate finally earns a majority of the vote. 

Here’s a likely timeline for the results, according to THE CITY and The New York Times

  • June 22: Unofficial, first-round election night results before ranked-choice rounds are released. These results will only include in-person votes, not absentee or provisional ballots. 
  • June 29: Board of Elections runs the first round of ranked-choice voting, also without full absentee and provisional results. These results will remain unofficial. 
  • July 6: Ranked-choice tallies are updated with absentee and provisional ballots as they’re counted and accepted. 
  • July 12: The Board of Elections is expected to finish up final ranked-choice rounds with complete absentee and provisional results. 

New York City mayoral candidate Eric Adams at a campaign event

Democratic mayoral candidate Eric Adams greets supporters during a campaign event, Thursday, June 17, 2021, in the Harlem neighborhood of New York

Mary Altaffer/AP


How the campaign shaped up during the pandemic.

The primary’s early months were dominated by

Zoom
forums.

Nonprofit organizations, unions, and other local groups held discussions that were less debates than opportunities for the candidates to repeat their campaign promises and sharpen their messaging.

Another factor making this campaign rather unusual was the general lack of public polling, with several pollsters saying they were uncomfortable simulating ranked-choice voting with any accuracy.

By May, in-person campaign events began to heat up, and eventually the candidates were able to meet in-person for a handful of televised debates.

Yang started the race as the frontrunner, but as more polling became available in the final weeks, he began to slip into second, third, and even fourth place in some surveys. 

However, Yang remained competitive throughout, and an Ipsos poll released on the eve of the primary showed him in second place behind Adams.

Adams cleaned up with labor endorsements around the city, while Yang received a first of its kind joint-endorsement from Hasidic and Orthodox Jewish community leaders. The borough president’s momentum was complicated by a scandal involving his primary residence, when a Politico investigation found Adams may have been living in either New Jersey or his office instead of a Bedford-Stuyvesant brownstone that he officially listed.

Garcia began to surge following her New York Times Editorial Board endorsement, and Wiley was able to capitalize on late support from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Outside of the top four, several progressive candidates failed to gain traction, most notably City Comptroller Scott Stringer.

Stringer was accused by two women of sexually assaulting them in the early 2000s. He denied both allegations, but saw a mass defection of endorsements.

The latest twist in the race came in the final weekend, when Yang and Garcia campaigned together to “promote ranked-choice voting,” but not as a co-endorsement. Adams accused them of trying to prevent a person of color from becoming mayor, to which Yang replied that he’s been Asian his whole life.





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