Who won the NYC mayoral primary? Nobody knows

(AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

If you were expecting to wake up this morning and find out who would be replacing Bill de Blasio as the next mayor of New York City, you might want to temper those expectations. By a lot. The polls closed at the expected time and the counting began, but it won’t be ending any time soon. There were some results available last night showing Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams with a roughly ten-point lead, pretty much matching his numbers in the most recent polling. Even in a crowded field like this one, that should have been enough to call the race, but Adams wasn’t giving any victory speeches. The reason is that we won’t know the actual final numbers for a while yet. In fact, it could be well into July before a victor is declared. And the two reasons for that are the recent changes to New York City’s voting laws, one of which allowed virtually unlimited mail-in ballots and the other instituting ranked-choice voting. (Associated Press)

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams appeared to take a fragile lead Tuesday in New York City’s Democratic mayoral primary, but it could be weeks before it becomes clear who is actually on top in the first citywide election to use ranked choice voting.

As ballot counting began Tuesday, a plurality of Democrats ranked Adams as their first choice in the race.

It was tough to tell, though, whether that lead would hold. As many as 207,500 absentee ballots remained to be counted. Voters’ full rankings of the candidates have yet to be taken into account. It could be July before a winner emerges in the Democratic contest.

Adams, a former police captain who co-founded a leadership group for Black officers, was leading former city sanitation commissioner Kathryn Garcia and former de Blasio administration lawyer Maya Wiley.

The election was held on the appointed day and we really should have had a winner by now. It was a fairly close race, but it wasn’t that close, at least not among the votes that were able to be counted last night. And yet there were still more than 200,000 mail-in ballots to be counted because of the city’s early voting window and wide use of mail-in ballots. Even if Adams’ lead holds up after all of the paper ballots are tallied, the Board of Elections will meet on June 29 to officially determine who received the most “first choice” votes.

Adams certainly won’t be over the 50% mark at that point, so the board will then examine the ballots for whoever came in last and transfer their votes to whoever their second choice was. They’ll repeat that process with the next lowest finisher and then the next until either somebody is over 50% or there are only two people left. But the board won’t be including the absentee ballots in the count until July 6, so even their first set of recalculations won’t be definitive.

These are some of the voting “reform” laws that the Democrats are attempting to mandate for the entire country. If your goal is to ensure greater confidence in the validity of our elections, generating this sort of confusion and long delays isn’t going to do much for you. If Eric Adams is determined to have the most votes after the first round of counting but either Kathryn Garcia or Maya Wiley (currently in second and third place) is declared the winner next month, people are understandably going to have a lot of questions. And all of this is taking place in a city that is owned and operated by Democrats, so you don’t get to blame the Republicans for this mess.

In related news, one thing that the pollsters definitely seemed to get wrong was Andrew Yang’s standing in the race. He was predicted to be in a close battle for second or third place, but the initial count had him far short of that. In fact, he was far enough back in the pack that he gave his concession speech within a couple of hours. Yang was leading all of the polls at one point, but he began seriously fading toward the end. Some of his former aides from his presidential campaign are blaming Tusk Strategies, the New York City lobbying firm Yang hired to help run his campaign.

There’s always plenty of finger-pointing going on at the end of a losing campaign, and perhaps Tusk could have handled things differently. But mostly, it seems as if Eric Adams was able to seal the deal with most voters by promising to get the crime rates in NYC under control and restore the power of the NYPD. It will be a shame if ranked-choice voting takes the race away from Adams and hands it to some socialist endorsed by the “squad.”