THE DAY AFTER: A Guide to the Post-Primary Mayoral Mayhem

Mayoral candidates that did not win the Democratic primary still have ideas that should be considered by the next mayor.
Mayoral candidates that did not win the Democratic primary still have ideas that should be considered by the next mayor.

Primary Day is just the beginning.

The final frantic 72 hours before today’s mayoral election has seen some one-sided co-campaigning, dubious accusations of “voter suppression,” and a decent demonstration of hula-hooping. While the four top-polling candidate — Eric Adams, Kathryn Garcia, Andrew Yang and Maya Wiley — are all still making their cases to voters even as those voters go to the polls, New Yorkers should know that we may be in for an interesting few weeks until all the ballots are tallied.

What will we know, and when will we know it? Read on!

Are there going to be any results on Primary Day? Will we know the winner?

On Tuesday night, the New York City Board of Elections will release the preliminary results based on the votes cast during the early voting period, and on Primary Day. This tally will not include absentee ballots. If no candidate gets more than 50 percent of the first-choice vote, New Yorkers will have to wait several weeks for the ranked-choice count to play out.

The BOE has issued more than 220,000 absentee ballots for this election, and more than 82,000 have been returned so far. Absentee ballots have to be postmarked by Tuesday (June 22) and received by June 29 to be counted. Usually the number of absentee ballots significantly exceeds the amount that are eventually counted.

On June 29, one week after Primary Day, the BOE will tabulate the first round of ranked choice votes and release more preliminary, incomplete results. This count won’t include absentee ballots, which legally cannot be counted until the 29th, thanks to state law.

A week after that, on July 6, the BOE will release an updated count. Voters will have a chance to correct or “cure” incorrectly marked absentee ballots by July 9 (the BOE will “send you a letter” if they believe your ballot needs curing, according to a staffer on their voting hotline). On July 12, the BOE should have the final, official results in hand. For more on how the ranked-choice counting works, see these guides.

Eric Adams has suggested that the Board of Elections should not release preliminary results because “people are going to feel as though there’s something hanky panky going on.” Is this schedule of weekly, incomplete results usually how these ranked choice elections are counted?

Yes, if you want to have as much transparency as possible throughout the process.

“This is the way of getting some information to voters when they can, as opposed to waiting the many weeks for all the absentee ballots to arrive,” Deb Otis, a senior research analyst for the nonpartisan election reform group FairVote, told Streetsblog. “The situation that New York is using is just fine. I don’t forsee any legal issues with this method.”

Susan Lerner, the executive director of the good government group Common Cause NY, agreed.

“We think it’s essential that the BOE not withhold information from the public and we maintain that the cast vote record for in-person voting should be available one week from the election,” Lerner wrote in an email to Streetsblog.

How often does the candidate with the most first-choice votes on Election Night actually lose?

“Come-from-behind wins can happen in ranked choice voting in competitive elections. We see it about 10 percent of the time,” Otis said.

The mayor’s race is reasonably close, but some of the 51 City Council races are much closer, and that is where Otis believes we could see some shifts in the final result.

“I think it’s very possible that we will see one or more come-from-behind wins,” Otis said.

Kathryn Garcia’s refusal to actually endorse Andrew Yang while they campaigning together is cold-blooded and also kind of funny. But is their joint pitch “voter suppression,” as some of Adams’s supporters are claiming?

No.

“There is nothing insidious or cynical about two candidates transparently using a legitimate strategy in a democratically approved system of election,” Lerner said in a statement.

Despite Adams himself boosting some of the second-choice endorsements he got, his campaign surrogates — including former Gov. David Paterson — spent Saturday and Sunday accusing Garcia and Yang of racially motivated subterfuge.

“This is a cynical attempt by Garcia and Yang to disenfranchise Black voters,” civil right activist Ashley Sharpton said. City Council Member Laurie Cumbo called it “ganging up to sideline the voices of Black and brown voters through a ranked-choice process that many in our communities still don’t understand.”

The same NY1 poll that recently showed Adams in the lead also revealed that 80 percent of voters were comfortable with ranked-choice voting.

“I can’t speak on behalf of my supporters,” Adams said Monday morning on CNN, when asked about these comments. “I can say this: African-Americans are very clear on voter suppression. We know about a poll tax, we know about the fight that we’ve had historically, how you had to go through hurdles to vote. So if they feel based on their perception that it suppresses the vote then I respect their feelings. It’s not for me to interpret their feelings.”

Garcia has mostly sidestepped the comments from Adams and his camp, while Yang said, “I would tell Eric Adams that I have been Asian all my life.”

At a campaign stop in Chinatown on Sunday, Streetsblog asked Wiley what she thought of the idea that Garcia and Yang were suppressing the will of minority voters.

“I will never play the race card lightly unless I see racism,” she replied. “And I’m not calling this racism.”

Has Adams committed to respecting the results of the election after the ranked-choice count?

Kind of! (See below.)

What kinds of legal challenges could candidates make during the ranked-choice count process?

It depends on what the goal of the lawsuit actually is.

“Courts will not intervene in the canvassing process by the BOE until after the results are certified,” longtime election attorney Jerry Goldfeder told Streetsblog. “However, in that the statute of limitations relating to a primary election is 10 days after the primary, if a candidate wants to prophylactically protect their rights down the road, they need to file an anticipatory lawsuit by the end of next week. Which is ridiculous, because it means that there will be lawsuits with no basis whatsoever because the legislature has required this timeline.”

Our own translation of these comments: hold on to your butts.

How has turnout been so far?

Not bad!

One strategist predicted that turnout will exceed 800,000,which would be 200,000 more votes than the fall primary in 2013.

“The thing to pay attention to is the Board of Elections releasing results, they have been transparent about their schedule,” Otis said. “Any statements from campaigns declaring victory should be fact-checked.”

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