The New York City Board of Elections will run its first tally of the Primary election results on Tuesday and post updated results of the standings among candidates. These results will still only be based on in-person votes cast either during early voting or on Primary Day. But it will provide voters and candidates with more information about the gap between finishers and whether absentee ballots are likely to change the outcome of a race.
Here’s what you need to know about what the NYC BOE will be doing when it ranks the results.
What will we learn after this FIRST ranked-choice tally?
After the polls closed on Primary Night, elections officials provided unofficial election night returns. For the primary races where ranked-choice voting applies—including mayor, public advocate, comptroller, borough president and city council—the results indicated how many first place votes each candidate had received. No absentee or affidavit ballots were included.
The next step will be for city elections officials to use the Universal Ranked Choice Voting Tabulator, software selected by the city and certified by the state, to tally the in-person votes through a series of rounds. In each round, the candidate who comes in last place will be eliminated and voters who selected that person will have their next choice counted. This process will repeat until only two candidates remain.
Again, this tally will not include any absentee or affidavit ballots.
Where will this updated information be available?
The NYC BOE will post the results on their website: vote.nyc. In previous special elections, they presented the ranked-choice results in bar graphs that showed the order that candidates were eliminated. Experts expect that they will provide a similar view of the results for each contest that is eligible for a ranked-choice tally.
Could a different candidate take the lead over who was ahead on Primary Night?
Yes, it is possible that the updated results could shuffle the order of some races. In the Democratic mayoral primary, Eric Adams led by roughly 75,000 votes based on in-person, first-choice selections. He may see that lead increase or decrease. Another candidate could take the lead. Depending on the margin, people may be looking more closely at the pool of returned absentee ballots to determine if it is still possible for someone else to win the race. But if a candidate holds a lead that exceeds more than the number of outstanding absentee ballots, or the margin has significantly narrowed, we may hear some candidates come closer to claiming victory.
Wait, so we still won’t know the official results?
Technically, we never knew the official results a week after the election. Under state election law, absentee ballots can be received up to a week after the election, in this case June 29th. The state also passed additional changes to the law last year that offer a voter the opportunity to fix certain technical errors they might have made to their absentee ballot, like forgetting to sign the inner oath envelope. Those new procedures, known as a cure process, give voters up to seven business days to correct an error. That means we won’t have a final pool of eligible ballots until July 9th (assuming the city BOE receives cure eligible ballots on June 29th, the last day absentee ballots can be received).
How do we know how many people actually ranked more than one candidate?
We won’t know the official number until the New York City Board of Elections releases what’s called the cast-vote record for the primary election. That is the complete record of votes cast including selections from first to fifth choice. Elections officials say they do not plan to release the cast-vote record until after they certify results, which is not expected until later in July.
However, the good government group Common Cause New York, which advocated for ranked-choice voting, released preliminary results of an exit poll conducted by Edison Research during early voting and on Primary Day. Out of the 1,662 voters polled, they found that 83% of voters ranked at least two candidates on their ballots in the mayoral primary. And 72% ranked three or more candidates. While that does not tell us anything about the winners of these contests, it does suggest that a majority of voters used ranked-choice voting and that the results are likely to change as additional tallies are conducted.
OK, but when will this Primary election truly be finished?
After Tuesday (June 29th), elections officials will publish a weekly update of the ranked choice voting tally. The next update is expected on July 6th and will include as many absentee ballots as they have counted at that point. Elections officials have long-said they expect to certify the results the week of July 12th.