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Opinion: Early voting in the primary is risky

I’m writing this on Wednesday, June 9th; the earliest you’ll read it is Friday, June 11th. Then, in less than 24 hours, on Saturday, June 12th, voting for our next city government, and most consequentially, the 110th Mayor of New York City, begins and continues until election day, June 22nd. Between now and then, things may get a little crazy. As I started typing, trending Twitter topics included the contents of Eric Adams fridge and EZPASS records. By this time next week, such matters may feel normal. But, regardless of what happens, what feels normal, and what news breaks, the theme of this year’s election is uncertainty. 

Brooklyn Borough President Adams is certainly the favorite to win, but polling such as it shows it could take up to 10 rounds of RCV with no one above 25 percent in the first round tabulation. There’s even more uncertainty in the comptroller’s race as the latest poll has 44 percent undecided, with City Council Speaker Corey Johnson with a lead of 18 percent to Councilmember Lander’s and Financial Journalist Michelle Caruso-Cabrera’s 9 percent.  Just as this poll was released, Councilmember Lander received the endorsement of the New York Times. While I don’t rely on a single endorsement, even that of the Times, for my choice with such uncertainty and low name recognition, a trusted institution such as the Times may make a big difference for Lander as it seems to have done for Kathyrn Garcia.

You may be wondering what the purpose of highlighting this uncertainty is or if I would describe the water while drowning? No, I wouldn’t describe the water when drowning, but I discourage voting early in an election, with so much uncertainty surrounding it and possible insights and revelations to come. The right and convenience of voting early is a great feature in expansive democracy. It is surely better to vote early than not at all.  When there is a clear binary choice between, let’s say, Biden vs. Trump, it’s great to lock in your vote and maybe even get out and campaign. Even in this year’s city election, I encourage early voting if you are certain in your choice(s).

Mayor de Blasio’s former Press Secretary Eric Phillips said on June 8th that people “voting on June 12 and June 22 won’t be voting on the same race.” But, of course, that is a truism embedded in mail-in and early voting concepts, so there’s no harm in taking a few more days to determine who runs the city for the next four years.  

After in-depth consideration and without pause, I intend to vote for Garcia, Lander, and Simon, and if that were the only consideration, I’d vote early. However, considering RCV voting and the remaining uncertainty about the second through fifth slots on the ballot, I may take my advice and wait until June 22nd to vote.

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