RESULTS: Eric Adams projected winner of New York City Mayor Democratic primary

·6 min read
From left: Shaun Donovan, Andrew Yang, Ray McGuire, Kathryn Garcia, Eric Adams, and Maya Wiley with New York City's skyline tint blue in the background.
Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images; David Dee Delgado/Getty Images; Spencer Platt/Getty Images; Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images; Samantha Lee/Insider
  • Eric Adams is now projected to win the Democratic nomination for New York City Mayor.

  • New York City voters are selecting Democratic and Republican nominees for mayor.

  • New York used ranked-choice voting for the first time.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

The latest tallies of New York City's ranked-choice Democratic mayoral primary election show Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams leading former New York City Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia by 8,426 votes, 50.5% to 49.5%, with most absentee votes now counted.

Given the outstanding vote and Adams' lead, he is projected to be the winner of the primary.

The latest results include over 122,000 absentee ballots and some provisional ballots cast in person. Out of the total 125,794 absentee ballots cast in the mayoral primary, 3,669 had problems with the signature on the outer envelope that voters will need to fix in order for their ballots to count, the city's Board of Elections announced Tuesday.

Voters went to the polls through June 22 to pick Democratic and Republican nominees for mayor in the race to succeed Mayor Bill de Blasio, who is term-limited.

The winner of the crowded Democratic primary field will be the favorite in November's general election, with Democrats heavily outnumbering registered Republicans across the five boroughs.

The Board of Elections released unofficial, un-ranked election results based on in-person votes only on Election Night, then ran the first ranked-choice tabulations a week later on June 29, also based on only in-person votes.

But it didn't go off without some drama along the way: officials had to remove, recalculate, and re-release the first set of ranked-choice vote tabulations for the city's mayoral race after a major mishap ensued when an employee in Queens accidentally included 135,000 test votes in the ranked-choice runoff results released on June 29, an embarrassment for the embattled city Board of Elections.

Several candidates, however, found themselves eliminated from contention just based on the unranked, election night results.

Shortly before 11 p.m. on the night of June 22, former presidential candidate Andrew Yang conceded in a speech in front of supporters.

"I am not going to be the next Mayor of New York City," Yang said, sitting in fourth place.

Here are the unofficial, ranked tenth-round election results that show how the candidates stand before absentee and provisional ballots were added to the tally:

A voter receives her ballot in New York City's June 22 mayoral election
A voter receives her ballot at Frank McCourt High School, in New York, Tuesday, June 22, 2021. Richard Drew/AP

Why it took weeks to learn results.

While tabulating ranked-choice votes is done via software and is not particularly arduous on its own, it's taking weeks to know the final results of the mayor's race because of New York's procedures for counting absentee ballots.

New York continued to allow voters to vote absentee due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and state law allows a lot of time for ballots to be accepted and mistakes with voters' ballots to be rectified.

Absentee ballots were accepted through June 29 as long as they were postmarked by Election Day, and voters have until July 9 to fix or "cure" issues, like missing signatures on the outer envelopes of their ballots, under a new state law.

Military and overseas absentee ballots postmarked by Election Day were also accepted through July 5.

Then, ranked-choice voting comes into play. In the mayoral, borough president, and city council races, voters have the option to rank up to five candidates in order of their preference after New York City voters approved a ballot initiative to enact ranked-choice voting in 2019.

Ranked-choice voting ensures that the candidate who eventually wins does so with a majority of the vote.

Since no candidate won over 50% of the vote outright in the Democratic mayoral primary, the votes earned by the candidate who comes in last place are redistributed up to the next-best performing candidate. The process then continues up the chain until one candidate finally earns a majority of the vote.

The Board of Elections is expected to finish up final ranked-choice rounds with complete absentee and provisional results during the week of July 12.

New York City mayoral candidate Eric Adams at a campaign event
Democratic mayoral candidate Eric Adams greets supporters during a campaign event, Thursday, June 17, 2021, in the Harlem neighborhood of New York Mary Altaffer/AP

How the campaign shaped up during the pandemic.

The primary's early months were dominated by Zoom forums.

Nonprofit organizations, unions, and other local groups held discussions that were less debates than opportunities for the candidates to repeat their campaign promises and sharpen their messaging.

Another factor making this campaign rather unusual was the general lack of public polling, with several pollsters saying they were uncomfortable simulating ranked-choice voting with any accuracy.

By May, in-person campaign events began to heat up, and eventually the candidates were able to meet in-person for a handful of televised debates.

Yang started the race as the frontrunner, but as more polling became available in the final weeks, he began to slip into second, third, and even fourth place in some surveys.

However, Yang remained competitive throughout, and an Ipsos poll released on the eve of the primary showed him in second place behind Adams.

Adams cleaned up with labor endorsements around the city, while Yang received a first of its kind joint-endorsement from Hasidic and Orthodox Jewish community leaders. The borough president's momentum was complicated by a scandal involving his primary residence, when a Politico investigation found Adams may have been living in either New Jersey or his office instead of a Bedford-Stuyvesant brownstone that he officially listed.

Garcia began to surge following her New York Times Editorial Board endorsement, and Wiley was able to capitalize on late support from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Outside of the top four, several progressive candidates failed to gain traction, most notably City Comptroller Scott Stringer.

Stringer was accused by two women of sexually assaulting them in the early 2000s. He denied both allegations, but saw a mass defection of endorsements.

The latest twist in the race came in the final weekend, when Yang and Garcia campaigned together to "promote ranked-choice voting," but not as a co-endorsement. Adams accused them of trying to prevent a person of color from becoming mayor, to which Yang replied that he's been Asian his whole life.

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