NEW YORK CITY — Tuesday, one week after New York City’s June primaries, voters will finally see the impact of ranked choice voting in the race for mayor.
How does ranked choice voting counting work?
Monday began the process of scanning into the Board of Elections computer system the thousands of absentee ballots. First, each one was opened under the careful observation of a Republican and Democrat, sometimes with campaign observers keeping unofficial tallies.
Steven Patzer is running for City Council to represent Coney Island and other nearby neighborhoods. He said the process in Brooklyn he observed appears to be moving smoothly.
“They stated on time,” he said. “They have some campaigns that want to hear everybody’s name out loud before the envelope is unsealed, and that slows down the process tremendously. But there’s only one district doing that right now.”
The Board of Elections will use all the complete in-person voter information, about 800,000 ballots, to run its first citywide ranked choice voting simulation. It comes as about 130,000 absentee ballots are still being processed. Those absentees will not factor into the first simulation on Tuesday.
In the race for mayor, it is likely this first calculation will show Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams winning. He is ahead by around 9% in preliminary first choice results.
The question is: How much will Adams be ahead? On July 6, the absentee ballots will be included in a second ranked choice voting calculation. That is when Katheryn Garcia or Maya Wiley are hoping to surge ahead and be the first woman to become mayor.
“We don’t know what will happen once absentee ballots are in the mix and the RCV rounds are conducted,” warned Susan Lerner with Rank the Vote NYC.
The July 6 simulation may reveal enough information to know the winner in many races, including the one for mayor. However, certified results are not expected until the week of July 12, when all absentees are processes. This could mean a delayed declaration of a winner in particularly tight races, like the Democratic primary for Queens borough president and the Republican primary for Staten Island borough president.