Polls have closed in the New York City Democratic mayoral primary, but final results are not expected for at least a week due to the city’s transition to a ranked-choice voting system.
The winner of the Democratic primary is generally expected to win New York’s mayoral race. New York City is home to 3.7 million registered Democrats, 1.08 million Independents, and about 566,000 Republicans as of February 2021.
Leading candidates included Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams; businessman and former presidential candidate Andrew Yang; former New York City Sanitation Department commissioner Kathryn Garcia; and Maya Wiley, a former counsel to current mayor Bill de Blasio who was endorsed by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.).
The primary marks the first time New York is using ranked-choice voting, in which voters can pick multiple candidates in order of their preference. If no candidate receives a majority in the initial round, the losing candidate’s votes are distributed among the remaining candidates according to voters’ second preference. The process continues until a victor is declared.
The counting of ranked-choice ballots is expected to slow the release of a final tally, as is the counting of absentee ballots, which are expected to comprise roughly 15 to 20 percent of the total ballots and can be submitted as late as ten days after election day.
Wiley, who filed her ballot last week during the early voting period, had to ask for a new ballot after filling out the first incorrectly.
“It’s not so much that it’s confusing. It’s that you have to line up the names to the numbers,” Wiley said at the time.
Crime and public safety became increasingly important issues during the primary, with 56 percent of likely voters ranking them as “top priorities” for the new mayor to address, according to an Ipsos poll released on Monday. The next-pressing issue was reopening the economy, which 25 percent of likely voters chose as their top priority.
Adams, a former NYPD captain, and Yang attempted to portray themselves as the best candidates to tackle crime in the city, and repeatedly condemned calls to defund the NYPD.
“Rep. Ocasio-Cortez and Maya Wiley want to slash the police department budget and shrink the police force at a time when Black and brown babies are being shot in our streets, hate crimes are terrorizing Asian and Jewish communities, and innocent New Yorkers are being stabbed and shot on their way to work,” Adams said in a statement following a primary debate.
Yang called to support police while also taking people with severe mental illness off city streets.
“Mentally ill homeless men are changing the character of our neighborhoods…We’re talking about the hundreds of mentally ill people we see around us every day on the streets and the subways,” Yang said at a debate on June 17. “We need to get them off of our streets and our subways into a better environment.”
On Saturday, Yang and Kathryn Garcia opened an alliance against Adams, with Yang telling voters to rank him first and Garcia second. Adams responded by accusing the two of trying to prevent a “person of color” from becoming mayor.
“For them to come together like they are doing in the last three days, they’re saying we can’t trust a person of color to be the mayor of the City of New York when this city is overwhelmingly people of color,” Adams told reporters.
“I would tell Eric Adams that I’ve been Asian my entire life,” Yang said in response.