NEW YORK (AP) — The votes
are in, and the polls have closed, but the top contenders in New York City
's mayoral primary, the first citywide election to use ranked choice voting
, may face a long and anxious wait for accurate results.
Several candidates running to succeed Mayor Bill de Blasio have the potential to make history
if elected: depending on who wins, the city could get its first female mayor, its first Asian American
mayor, or its second Black
However, with the introduction of the ranked voting system and a mountain of absentee ballots still to be counted, a winner in the Democratic primary
may not be determined until July.
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams
, a former police captain who co-founded a leadership group for Black officers, led several recent polls, but he was closely followed by former city sanitation commissioner Kathryn Garcia
, former de Blasio administration lawyer Maya Wiley
, and former presidential candidate Andrew Yang
“This has been an amazing journey,” Adams told reporters after voting in Brooklyn, recalling how his path into law enforcement and politics
began at the age of 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,” Adams said.
The New York City Board of Elections
planned to release partial results of in-person votes cast after polls closed at 9 p.m., but that preliminary picture could be misleading because it will only include data on who candidates ranked as their first choice.
The ranked choice system, which was approved by referendum in 2019 for use in New York City primaries and special elections, allowed voters
to rank up to five candidates on their ballot.
The votes are then tabulated in computerized rounds, with the person in last place being eliminated each round, and ballots cast for that person being redistributed to the surviving candidates based on voter rankings, until only two candidates remain, and the candidate with the most votes wins.
The Board of Elections will not conduct a tally of those votes using the new system until June 29, and it will not include any absentee ballots in its analysis until July 6, making any count prior to that potentially unreliable.
As of Monday, the city had received over 87,000 absentee ballots, with more expected in the mail in the coming days.
In addition to Adams, Garcia, Wiley, and Yang, other Democratic candidates 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.
Due to term limits, Democrat Bill de Blasio will leave office at the end of the year.
Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa ran against businessman Fernando Mateo in the Republican primary, and because there were only two candidates, ranked choice voting was not used.
The candidates raced around the city on Tuesday, wrapping up their campaigning.
Wiley was losing her voice as she greeted voters near her polling place in Brooklyn, Garcia was campaigning in the Bronx, and Sliwa and Stringer ran into each other in Manhattan
Yang traveled by subway to meet with voters.
“You have to get out
and vote if you want your city to work
for us and our families,” he said after voting in Manhattan.
Concerns about an increase in shootings
during the pandemic
have dominated the mayoral campaign in recent months, even as candidates grappled with left-wing demands for more police reform
Adams, a former officer who spent his career combating racism
within the department, may have benefited the most from the policing debate.
He criticized the “defund the cops” campaign and proposed reactivating a disbanded plainclothes unit to focus on removing illegal firearms from the streets.
Wiley and Stringer, who are competing for progressive votes, both stated that they would reallocate a portion of the police budget
to other city programs.
If elected, either Garcia or Wiley will be the city's first female mayor, Adams or Wiley will be the city's second Black mayor, and Yang will be the city's first Asian American mayor.
In the final days of the campaign, Yang and Garcia formed an apparent alliance in an apparent attempt to use the ranked voting system to block Adams, holding several joint campaign events, with Yang asking his supporters to rank Garcia as their No. 2 — though Garcia did not quite return the favor, not telling her voters where to rank Yang.
In a city where Democrats
by a 7-to-1 margin, neither Sliwa nor Mateo stand a chance of winning the general election in November.
During one Zoom
debate, the two Republicans, who were once allies, traded personal insults and attempted to shout over each other.
Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani
endorsed Sliwa, a radio host who still wears his red Guardian Angels beret in public, in a robocall to Republican voters.
, former President Donald Trump
's first national security
adviser, endorsed Mateo, a restaurateur who has led organizations that advocate for car service drivers and bodega owners.