(The Center Square) – Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams holds an early lead in the race for the nomination for mayor in the New York Democratic Primary, but thanks to a new election format as well as outstanding absentee votes, it will take some time before the final results are known.
With nearly 800,000 votes counted through early Wednesday afternoon, Adams has 253,324 votes, or 31.7% of the count. That’s 75,602 more than Maya Wiley, former counsel to current Mayor Bill de Blasio. Wiley’s total accounts for 22.2% of the count.
De Blasio cannot run for a third consecutive term.
The initial unofficial reports from the New York City Board of Elections include votes cast during Tuesday’s election as well as during in-person early voting, but not the 207,500 absentee ballots sent out.
According to the board, more than 120,000 Democratic absentee ballots remain outstanding. The city will count absentee votes it receives by June 29, with city officials beginning to count those ballots on June 28.
However, the delay in absentee votes isn’t the only factor delaying the returns. The 2021 primary marked the first time the city used ranked choice voting for an election.
Under ranked-choice, voters rank up to five candidates for a position. If no candidate receives 50% of the first-choice votes after the initial count, the board will eliminate the last-place candidate.
Voters for the eliminated candidate will then have their second-choice votes counted. That process of eliminations will continue until a candidate finally hits the 50% mark.
There are 13 candidates in the Democratic mayoral primary, not counting write-in votes.
“There are still ballots to be counted and votes to be reallocated, but I'm humbled and proud to be New Yorkers' first choice for Mayor!” Adams tweeted on Wednesday afternoon.
Before going into politics, Adams, who is Black, served as a captain for the New York City Police Department.
In speaking to reporters Wednesday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he wasn’t sure if Adams would prevail. However, he thought that safety was a key issue for many voters and that the economy cannot really recover post-COVID-19 unless the city’s rising crime issue is addressed.
“We have a major crime problem in New York City,” the governor said. “That cannot be over-politicized. … That is a real-life issue for the people of New York, and I think having a new mayor, who has addressed it honestly and has the competence to do something about it, is going to be key.”
Curtis Sliwa won the Republican primary on Tuesday, beating Fernando Mateo by more than 40 percentage points. With almost 97% of Election Day and early votes counted, Sliwa received 36,872 votes, or 68.9%, compared to Mateo’s 14,392, or 26.9%.