New York City elections officials plan to release a potentially decisive update Tuesday on the Democratic mayoral primary, two weeks after polls closed and a week after a tallying flub marred the debut of ranked choice voting in the race for the nation’s most prominent municipal job.
At the moment, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams leads the pack of more than a dozen Democratic contenders. But former Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia and civil rights attorney Maya Wiley also appear to have a shot at victory in the complex system of ranking and reallocating, with about 125,000 absentee ballots still to be added to the process.
The city’s Board of Elections has said it would release those results sometime Tuesday. But it isn’t immediately clear whether there may still be more absentee ballots to be tallied, as voters who made minor clerical errors still have some time to fix them and get their votes counted.
Adams, Garcia and Wiley have all filed lawsuits seeking to review the ongoing ranked choice tally.
Whoever wins faces Republican nominee and Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa in a city where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans 7-1, though two of the last three mayors won as Republicans.
The incumbent, Democrat Bill de Blasio, is term-limited.
When voting ended on June 22, Adams had a lead of around 75,000 votes over Wiley, with Garcia a close third, in a count that included only in-person voting and only voters’ first choices.
That was just the first of many rounds of calculations under the ranked choice system. It lets voters select multiple candidates in order of preference, so their votes can go to their alternate picks if their higher-ranked choices get too little support to prevail.
Last week, the elections board released the results of a ranked-choice analysis of just the in-person votes — and retracted it hours later, saying the computation accidentally included about 135,000 test ballots.
The board, which has been criticized for decades as bumbling and ill-managed, released corrected figures a day later. They showed Adams leading Garcia by about 15,000 votes, with Wiley less than 350 votes behind in third place.
Garcia, Wiley or both could catch up to Adams when the absentee ballots are added into the mix and the ranked-choice analysis is recalculated. Final results could be weeks away.
Garcia or Wiley, if elected, would be the first female mayor of the nation’s most populous city. Either Adams or Wiley would be the second Black mayor.
Adams, 60, was a police captain and state senator before becoming borough president. The post handles some constituent services and discretionary city spending but doesn’t have lawmaking power.
He’s a moderate Democrat, while Wiley, 57, ran as a progressive. She served as counsel to de Blasio, chaired a civilian panel that investigates complaints of police misconduct and was a legal analyst for MSNBC.
Garcia, 51, is a city government veteran who ran as a non-ideological crisis manager. Besides heading the Sanitation Department, she was tapped by de Blasio to run emergency food distribution during the pandemic and to serve as interim chair of the city’s embattled public housing system.