Eric Adams and Maya Wiley (305819)
Credit: Ariama C. Long photo

Voting for the Democratic primary was officially capped on Tuesday, June 22, leaving two prominent Black candidates, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and civil rights activist Maya Wiley, neck and neck in the race to advance to the November election for mayor of New York City.

As of press time Adams has garnered 31.7% of the vote, a total of 253,234 votes in the first round with the largest portion coming from Brooklyn as expected.

Bright and early on Tuesday morning, at his polling place with his son, Jordan, in Bedford-Stuyvesant’s PS 81, Adams spoke about his recently passed mother and the sense of relief he feels in giving his all to his campaign.

He spent most of the day last-minute campaigning until his grand watch party in Williamsburg. Adams was bombarded by ecstatic supporters, elected officials who had endorsed him, volunteers, and press at the rented out night club Schimanski, located at 54 North 11th Street.

“I’m just going to savor this moment, this moment is so important,” said Adams, in a lengthy speech delivered hours after the polls had closed. “We’re going to allow them to go through the process and count the ballots, count all the rankings and we know that this is an opportunity to participate.”

Adams said that he’s taking a long break now that the primary is over to sleep, relax, and spend time with family until all the ballots are in.

After the first round of votes were tallied Wiley had a total of 177,722 votes equalling 22.3%. Her supporters span Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens for the most part.

In a short speech on Wednesday on Parkside Avenue, she thanked New Yorkers for their support in the race. She maintained that polls do not detract from what the people actually want and whom they vote for.

“Sometimes it’s an act of courage, particularly in a time when we’re coming out of a crisis like COVID. In a time when there’s fear in the city but also so much at stake, and I’ve just been so humbled and honored by all the support we’ve received,” said Wiley. “When we started this journey on October 9th, no one thought that this city would believe in a Black woman who had never run for public office before.”

Technically, Adams can’t claim victory in the primary and Wiley can’t count herself out just yet.

“We’re going to wait, wait patiently until every vote is counted so every New Yorker counts,” said Wiley about what’s next.

Election Night results include the votes from early voting, which were about 191,197 votes cast, and the votes from Election Day before polls closed at 9 p.m.

The Board of Elections (BOE) cannot certify an election until all votes are counted, and in this case it still has to process all the absentee and mail-in ballots that can’t legally be opened or counted until after June 29. As well as process the new Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) system in rounds since no single candidate got over 50% of the votes.

On Tuesday, June 29, the BOE will start canvassing absentee, military, mail-in, and affidavit ballots. This year, the RCV round-by-round elimination process to determine a winner will not include those ballots in its first report.

The RCV reports will continue to come out every Tuesday until the BOE certifies the election results with an official winner when all ballots are counted, said the BOE. That means on Tuesday, July 6, there will be a second RCV report and so on.

Meanwhile, other mayoral candidates waded through the dreary rain that plagued Election Day and soldiered on with their loyal followers to the polls and their respective watch parties.

Former Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia met her brother, Matthew McIver, at William Alexander Middle School at 350 5th Avenue in Brooklyn while he cast his ballot.

Garcia said that the energy had been “phenomenal” for the day. Garcia came in third with 155,812 votes at 19.5%.

This election is still up for grabs and we will see how many rounds it takes for a candidate to get to the 50% threshold. After the first round in the 2010 Oakland, Calif. mayoral race, Jean Quan had 24.4%, and the front-runner Don Perata had 33.7%.

After the RCV tally, Quan won with 50.96% to Perata’s 49.04%.

Public Advocate Jumaane Williams on the subject of RCV on Monday, the day before the polls opened when controversy sparked between candidates over campaign strategies, said that opposition to a candidate does not mean opposition to an entire community, and RCV is not voter suppression.

“It is disingenuous and dangerous to play on the very real and legitimate fears of bigotry and voter disenfranchisement by pretending it’s present where it’s not. Unfortunately, these tactics are too often effective,” said Williams.

“I haven’t seen anyone trying to ‘steal’ an election, but many people are trying to win it, and I would hope voters reward candidates whose campaigns reflect the serious responsibilities of government leadership in this critical time and reject the politics of division,” said Williams, adding in his support for Wiley as mayor.

Term-limited City Council Majority Leader Laurie A. Cumbo, who supports Adams for mayor and was seen campaigning with him on Tuesday, said that she has a few qualms with RCV, but is confident that everyday voters can and will successfully figure out their preferences in ranking.

Cumbo said the real issue lies ahead in the confusing next steps to determine a winner.

She also said that she chose not to rank another candidate, other than Adams, because it’s hard to understand what happens exactly when one ranks all five. Cumbo said it’s similar to the way many candidates refused to divulge if they ranked other candidates because “we don’t really understand what this thing means in that way.”

“My issue with it more was the backend of how ranked choice voting works because that was never really part of the education,” said Cumbo. “So people don’t have an understanding of how the tallies are going to happen, what happens after that candidate doesn’t receive 50% of the vote. So, many people may not understand when it kicks in, may not understand the tallies and algorithms to get to the final winner.”

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