Election Day has finally come, and New York City residents are hitting the polls to cast the last ballots in the hotly contested primaries for mayor and other citywide offices.
New Yorkers had nine days for early voting, from June 12 to June 20, ahead of June 22. According to the city’s Board of Elections, approximately 191,197 residents took advantage of early voting, which is just under 20 percent of the early turnout seen in the November 2020 presidential election in the five boroughs. Across Brooklyn, approximately 65,516 residents — or just 2.5 percent of the borough population — participated in early voting.
This is also the first primary to employ ranked-choice voting. The new system allows voters to rank up to five candidates per office. If a candidate receives more than 50 percent of the first-choice votes, they win; but if no candidate earns more than 50 percent of the first-choice votes, then the votes will be tallied in rounds.
At the end of each round, the candidate with the fewest votes will be eliminated. If the eliminated candidate had been the first choice on a ballot, the vote then transfers to whoever was the second choice on the ballot.
The process continues until there are two candidates left. The candidate with the most votes is the winner.
The new system presents a new challenge for voters, following last November’s general election.
In almost no time, the people of Brooklyn and the city as a whole cast their ranked ballots for some of the most important offices in the city — perhaps the most consequential election for New York City in years — including mayor, comptroller, public advocate, borough presidents and City Council.
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A slow, but steady stream
For poll workers at Fort Hamilton High School in Bay Ridge, there was a slow, but steady stream of voters early Tuesday morning. Booths were never even close to full, per a Brooklyn Paper photographer on the scene, but the people were making their way in to make their voices heard.
While things ran smoothly at Fort Hamilton, other polling sites across the borough had rockier starts.
“I wake up at 6:30 which is a feat in itself,” said one voter who arrived at her polling place, PS/IS 180 in Borough Park, at 6:45 am — almost an hour after sites were supposed to open — only to be told to come back in 15-30 minutes. “A guy comes outside and says, are you here to vote? I say yes, and he says we’re not open yet, we got off to a late start.”
At John Ericsson Middle School near the border of Williamsburg and Greenpoint, polls didn’t open to the public until after 8:30 am.
Over 2 hours into polls being open and a polling site in my district, JHS 126, is still not open.@BOENYC — this needs to be solved now!! Voters are actively being disenfranchised.
— Kristina Naplatarski (@kristina_nap) June 22, 2021
“This needs to be solved now!!” tweeted local Democratic District Leader Kristina Naplatarski, who is also the communications director for borough president candidate Antonio Reynoso. “Voters are actively being disenfranchised.”
According to fellow District Leader Jesse Pierce, all standby poll workers were dispatched by 8 pm — but the local politico argued that the Board of Elections could have taken action much sooner to prevent delays.
“[BOE] could have flagged understaffing weeks ago,” Pierce tweeted, alleging that many poll workers assigned to sites had not taken the required refresher training and never confirmed availability ahead of Tuesday’s primary elections. “The alarm could’ve been raised. Instead, scramble.”
A ‘disheartening’ lack of translators
Some sites across the borough are reporting a lack of adequate voter translation services.
Councilmember Mark Treyger flagged Brooklyn Paper to a lack of such services in his southern Brooklyn district, which is home to a large Russian-speaking population.
“I remain very frustrated and disappointed that we don’t have more translation services,” said Treyger, who represents Coney Island, Brighton Beach and Seagate. “I have been pushing at the city level although we are limited by the state in terms of what we can require.”
No Russian translators at many sites and no Russian translated materials for voters in Southern Brooklyn and I’m hearing many ballots were voided because of confusion. @BOENYC pic.twitter.com/2qEB0zu5PJ
— Mark Treyger 🍎 (@MarkTreyger718) June 22, 2021
The deficit was evident this morning, he said, at the Haber Houses in Coney Island, where the usual polling site was moved around the corner, leaving non-English speaking voters without translators in the dark.
“We don’t have any Russian interpreters by Haber Houses,” he said. “They moved it around the corner, and that requires translation so people know where to vote. It is very disappointing and disheartening.”
Electioneering, staffing shortages and low supply
At Brooklyn Borough Hall, a six-foot-tall poster of sitting Borough President and mayoral candidate Eric Adams was removed by BOE workers after voters alleged the hopeful had a “home court advantage.” Similar complaints have been lodged about a box truck boasting an Adams campaign ad idling within 100 feet of a polling site on Newkirk Avenue.
Not to be a cop about this but then again Eric Adams is an actual cop, so… I’m pretty sure this isn’t ok! pic.twitter.com/LwEwnaYXrZ
— David Klion (@DavidKlion) June 22, 2021
In Sunset Park, District Leader Julio Peña alleged that candidates are “walking into poll sites and introducing themselves to poll workers as being on the ballot.”
“Stop it,” he tweeted.
Speaking to Brooklyn Paper, he further alleged that sites in his district are experiencing a poll worker shortage.
“Every poll site that I have gone to in my district so far is down at least half their staff,” he said, adding that community members are being asked to recruit voters to work the booths. “I don’t understand how this is how we are running our elections.”
And at many of the sites, Peña said, there’s a shortage of supplies such as personal protective equipment and charges for the iPads used for check-in. “I have been to seven poll sites in my district and six of them have reported some kind of issue,” he said. “These are issues that should have been taken care of beforehand.”
Voters largely unfazed by RCV
Outside PS 29 in Cobble Hill, voter Nick Farrone told Brooklyn Paper he thought the new ranked voting system was “pretty straightforward.”
Farrone and fellow elector Stephanie Lewin picked five candidates each for mayor and City Council — and both said they ranked mayoral candidates Kathryn Garcia and Scott Stringer first and second, respectively. “We need someone in there who knows the ins and outs and it seems like both of them have that sort of history,” said Farrone.
Lewin called Garcia “idealogical but practical.”
Across the borough, a Sheepshead Bay voter told Brooklyn Paper that while he understood ranked-choice voting, he hoped the new system wouldn’t throw others off-course.
“I hope it doesn’t get people confused,” said the man, named Mario. “I wasn’t, but I hope people could follow it.”
Mario — like Mayor Bill de Blasio — kept his vote under wraps, but said he placed an emphasis on police reform when making his pick.
“My main focus was police reform, seeing that any of the candidates wanted to do at least something,” he said.
At Brooklyn Tech, first-time voter Yogesh Pilawal told Brooklyn Paper he was pleasantly surprised by the smooth process of casting a ballot.
“Is it usually hard?” he asked. “I expected a line, I expected something that would delay me. But I showed up, I did it, it was very simple and straightforward.”
Outside Pilawal’s polling site, construction worker Jeff Simmons said he was grateful he’d opted for an absentee ballot this election.
“I wouldn’t want to be the person just walking in here blind and trying to figure it out, because they could just be guessing,” he said.
Hizzoner hits the polls in Park Slope
Mayor Bill de Blasio cast his ballot midday on June 22 at the Park Slope Public Library, not too far away from his personal residence.
Like any other voter, he filled out his scannable paper ballot, most likely utilizing the ranked-choice voting system to choose whom he’d like to succeed him, then fraternized with some children waiting outside the library, even taking the time to sign autographs.
De Blasio took to Twitter to show that he fulfilled his Constitutional right and his goodwill gesture with young Brooklynites. But as to his ballot choices, he made clear that would remain a secret.
Below is a list of candidates appearing on the ballot. Visit PoliticsNY.com to learn more about the candidates.
Brooklyn Borough President
Democratic primary: Robert Cornegy, Kim Council, Khari Edwards, Robert Elstein, Mathieu Eugene, Pearlene Fields, Anthony Jones, Lamor Miller-Whitehead, Trisha Ocona, Rob Ramos, Antonio Reynoso, Jo-Anne Simon
City Council District 33
Democratic primary: Elizabeth Adams, Victoria Cambranes, Sabrina Gates, Toba Potosky, Lincoln Restler, Stu Sherman, Ben Solotaire, April Somboun
City Council District 34
Democratic primary: Jennifer Gutiérrez, Scott Murphy, Andy J. Marte, Lutchi Gayot
City Council District 35
Democratic primary: Renee Collymore, Crystal Hudson, Curtis Harris, Michael Hollingsworth, Deirdre Levy, Regina Kinsey, Hector Robertson
City Council District 36
Democratic primary: Henry Butler, Tahirah Moore, Chi Ossé, Reginald Swiney, Robert Waterman
City Council District 37
Democratic primary: Misba Abdin, Darma Diaz (incumbent), Christopher Durosinmi, Rick Ecchevarria, Heriberto Mateo, Sandy Nurse
City Council District 38
Democratic primary: Alexa Avilés, Rodrigo Camarena, Jacqui Painter, Victor Swinton, César Zuñiga, Yu Lin
City Council District 39
Democratic primary:Shahana Hanif, Mamnun Haq, Justin Krebs, Bridget Rein, Doug Schneider, Brandon West, Jessica Simmons
City Council District 40
Democratic primary:Cecilia Cortez, Maxi Eugene, Kenya Handy-Hillard, Harriet Hines, Victor Jordan, Rita Joseph, Blake Morris, Vivia Morgan, Josue Pierre, Edwin Raymond, John Williams
City Council District 41
Democratic primary: Alicka Ampry-Samuel (incumbent), Darlene Mealy
City Council District 42
Democratic primary: Charles Barron, Wilfredo Florentino, Nikki Lucas, Gena Watson
City Council District 45
Democratic primary: Anthony Beckford, Cyril Joseph, Farah Louis (incumbent)
City Council District 46
Democratic primary: Gardy Brazela, Donald Cranston, Zuri Jackson-Woods, Mercedes Narciss, Judy Newton, Shirley Paul, Tiffany Pryor, Dimple Willabus
City Council District 47
Democratic primary: Alec Brook-Krasny, Ari Kagan, Joseph Packer, Steven Patzer
City Council District 48
Democratic primary: Amber Adler, Binyomen Zev Bendet, Mariya Markh, Steve Saperstein, Heshy Tischler
Democratic primary: Aaron Foldenauer, Dianne Morales, Scott Stringer, Ray McGuire, Paperboy Love Prince, Art Chang, Kathryn Garcia, Eric Adams, Isaac Wright Jr., Shaun Donovan, Andrew Yang, Jocelyn Taylor
Republican primary: Curtis Sliwa, Fernando Mateo
Democratic primary: Michelle Caruso-Cabrera, Zach Iscol, Terri Liftin, Alex Pan, Brad Lander, Corey Johnson, Reshma Patel, David Weprin, Brian Benjamin, Kevin Parker
Democratic primary: Anthony Herbert, Theo Bruce Chino Tavarez, Jumaane Williams (incumbent)
Additional reporting by Jessica Parks, Ben Brachfeld, Ben Verde, and Paul Frangipane
This story is developing. Check back for updates and results as they come in, though few calls are expected to be made on Election Night.