By The Associated Press
The votes are in. The polls are closed. But the top contenders may have a long, anxious wait ahead of them for accurate results in New York City’s mayoral primary, the first citywide election to use ranked choice voting.
Several candidates in the race to succeed Mayor Bill de Blasio have the potential to make history if elected. The city could get its first female mayor, or its second Black mayor, depending on who comes out on top.
Former presidential candidate Andrew Yang, who was far behind in early returns, conceded about two hours after polls closed and vowed to work with the next mayor.
But 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, a former police captain who co-founded a leadership group for Black officers, was in a tight race with former city sanitation commissioner Kathryn Garcia and former de Blasio administration lawyer Maya Wiley.
“This has been an amazing journey,” Adams told reporters after voting in Brooklyn, emotionally recounting how his path into both law enforcement and politics began at age 15, when he was beaten by police officers. “A little boy, laying on the floor of the 103rd Precinct, assaulted by cops, now could become the mayor to be in charge of that same police department.”
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.
But in the Democratic contest, the initial picture could be misleading. 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 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 June 21, with more expected to arrive in the mail over the next few days.
On June 23, AAPI Victory Fund released a statement congratulating Yang on his well-fought campaign and rebuking mainstream media for positioning candidate Yang as a token “foreigner.”
AAPI Victory Fund President Varun Nikore said in a statement, “Although his race didn’t amount to a victory, Yang gave the AAPI community a platform on which to elevate pervasive issues that remain increasingly relevant in the minds and hearts of AAPI people across the country.
“But, in addition to renewed hope, Yang’s campaign also shed light on the insidious ways in which mainstream media feeds the misinformation, hatred and, ultimately violence our community experiences.”
The statement continued, “Andrew Yang is a New Yorker. He was raised in New York, educated at American schools, he raised his two boys here and built his companies here. To assert anything different is offensive, harmful and outright dangerous… AAPI’s are still underrepresented in our American politics. This race showed exactly why. The AAPI Victory Fund will redouble our efforts to ensure an equitable society where everybody has the freedom and opportunity to succeed.”
Ruth Bayang contributed to this report.