Absentee ballots: How some candidates feel about the new voting system

New York Elections

NEW YORK CITY — Absentee ballots are arriving at people’s homes for the June 22 primaries, and the ballot will look a lot different this year due to ranked choice voting.

“We’re going to get the message out on the ground, knocking on doors — we’ve got to do it the good old fashioned way,” Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams said, blasting the education efforts of election officials about the new voting system.

Candidates for mayor have been doing their best to help voters navigate this year’s ballot. There are rows and rows of candidates to pick and columns of blank circles to fill in. Former Obama administration official Shaun Donovan said his campaign was the first to put out educational videos on ranked choice voting in multiple languages.

More: NYC’s race for mayor: A list of everyone running for New York City mayor in 2021

“If you have a first choice, you can rank up to four other people, and it does nothing to hurt your first choice candidate — that’s a common misperception,” Donovan said.

A recent poll from PIX11 found that while 81% of people have now heard of ranked choice voting, few voters actually have a second or even third choice in the crowded race for mayor.

Doing rankings for lower profile races like the contests for comptroller and City Council seats might prove even more difficult. Voters can rank up to five people in this election, and those rankings will be crucial to decide winners with rounds and rounds of counting.

More: How does ranked choice voting work?

However, if people only fill out one choice and their candidate is eliminated during the counting, their vote no longer matters.

Former Sanitation Commissioner Katheryn Garcia in particular has seen a surge in recent polling with more people thinking about her not just as a first choice, but also as their backup choice.

“We obviously are running a campaign to be everyone’s first choice, but if you’re not the first choice you want to be the second,” Garcia said.

PIX11 will air an exclusive two-hour forum with the leading candidates for the Democratic Party’s nomination for Mayor of New York City on May 27 beginning at 8 p.m.

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