The New York City Board of Elections provided its first snapshot of the Primary Election results for the Democratic Primary based on the new ranked-choice voting system on Tuesday — and those ranked tallies have changed the leaderboard, shrinking Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams’ lead down to 2 points over a new second place finisher, Kathryn Garcia, the city’s former Sanitation Commissioner. These results are still only based on the in-person votes cast during early voting and on Primary Day.
Currently, Adams holds only a 15,908 vote lead in Democratic mayoral primary. That’s down significantly from the results on Primary Night when Adams led by 9 points, or 75,000 votes, over his closest competitor, Maya Wiley. Based on this first ranked-tally, Wiley is eliminated in the 10th round of counting. But that does not mean this race is finished yet.
Missing from this tally are the more than 124,000 absentee ballots that voters cast in this election, which accounts for approximately 15.5% of the total votes cast. The largest share of those absentee ballots comes from Manhattan followed by Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Staten Island.
Election officials began counting those absentee ballots on Monday and will continue each day, including weekends, until all the votes are tallied. The next ranked-choice tally will be released on Tuesday, July 6th.
When those ballots are added to tallies, the leaderboard could shuffle once again.
Wiley’s campaign was quick to issue a statement to put the preliminary results in context.
“Democracy, as John Lewis said, is an act. And New York City residents engaged in one of the central acts of democracy! They voted. And they acted when they chose overwhelmingly to adopt ranked-choice voting. I said on election night, we must allow the democratic process to continue and count every vote so that New Yorkers have faith in our democracy and government. And we must all support its results,” Wiley said.
It did become increasingly clear on Tuesday that there was a discrepancy in the initial ranked-choice tally. When elections officials issued their unofficial returns on Primary Night which they said also reflected in-person votes cast during early voting, the first place results were based on 799,827 votes in the Democratic mayoral primary, with 96.62% percent of scanners reporting results. When the officials presented their first ranked tallies, more than 140,000 additional votes were included in the tally.
“The vote total just released by the Board of Elections is 100,000-plus more than the total announced on election night, raising serious questions,” Adams said in a statement issued from his campaign. “We have asked the Board of Elections to explain such a massive increase and other irregularities before we comment on the Ranked Choice Voting projection.”
At a press conference inside her campaign headquarters in Brooklyn, the newly resurgent Garcia said she was encouraged by the updated results, but urged New Yorkers to be patient as they await the results from absentee ballots. She noted the BOE’s actions throughout the campaign would not have her question claims of irregularities but directed any questions to the BOE.
Asked whether she would accept the results of the race once the absentee ballots are tabulated, Garcia said no legal action would be taken if all the votes are tallied fairly.
“I’m hoping that we don’t end up in a place where we have to do any legal action,” she said. “But we will protect the campaign to make sure that every vote is counted and counted fairly.”
The city BOE issued a statement over Twitter on Tuesday evening acknowledging the discrepancy and saying that they were working with their technical staff to determine what caused the error.
The Board is acknowledging the discrepancy, and trying to determine what caused the error.
— Brigid Bergin (@brigidbergin) June 29, 2021
It’s unclear whether the discrepancy was directly responsible for a delay in the remainder of the primary races, including those for borough president and City Council.
This story is developing.