Dear Neighbor,

We are in the final stretch of the mayoral race, with the primaries in exactly two weeks from today on June 22. While the same names have dominated the news cycle, there are actually 13 Democrat and two Republican candidates vying for the office.

Because the mayoral primary will be the city’s first major election to utilize ranked-choice voting, we want to provide you with a refresher. Also known as RCV, ranked-choice is a system of voting that identifies the candidate that is most preferred by all voters, as opposed to the candidate that simply received the most votes. In order to win, a candidate must receive the majority of votes, so 50% plus one. This is different from a plurality voting system — the system typically used in the United States — where each voter gets one vote, often resulting in candidates being elected without receiving the majority of votes. We all know how that goes.

How exactly does it work?

In New York City, RCV allows you to vote for up to five candidates, including one write-in. And the order of the candidates? It doesn’t mean anything. For the mayoral primary, candidates received their ballot placement based on a lottery drawing. The lists will look as follows:

Democratic candidates:

  1. Aaron S. Foldenauer
  2. Dianne Morales
  3. Scott M. Stringer
  4. Raymond J. McGuire
  5. Maya D. Wiley
  6. Paperboy Love Prince
  7. Art Chang
  8. Kathryn A. Garcia
  9. Eric L. Adams
  10. Isaac Wright Jr.
  11. Shaun Donovan
  12. Andrew Yang
  13. Joycelyn Taylor

Republican candidates:

  1. Curtis Sliwa
  2. Fernando Mateo
( via Gothamist)

Once votes are tallied for voters’ first-choice candidates, if none of them received a majority of votes, the candidate who received the fewest votes is removed, and the people who voted for that candidate have their second choice vote spread among the remaining candidates. This process continues until a candidate receives a majority of the votes.

Do you have to vote for five candidates?

While we encourage you to vote for five, you will not be penalized if you vote for fewer. However, if you only vote for one candidate, it’s more likely that your ballot will be “exhausted,” meaning that candidate did not receive enough votes to move on to the next level, and your vote no longer counts toward the total.

Mistakes to avoid: 

Because this is a new style of voting for us, it’s important to pay attention when filling out the ballot. If you accidentally skip a row — say, you leave your second choice candidate blank — the machines will likely be able to correct for that. What will invalidate your ballot is if you forget to mark your first choice candidate, if you skip more than one ranking (say you forget to fill out your second and third choices) or if you rank more than one candidate per column (i.e. you select two candidates as your first choice).

It’s kind of like a pizza

Imagine 16 people are ordering a (giant) pizza to share, and the options are plain, pepperoni or mushroom. People are asked to rank their preferences. If seven people ranked cheese as their first choice, five people selected pepperoni and four people selected mushroom, none received the majority. Since mushroom received the fewest votes, it is removed, and the mushroom lovers’ second-choice votes are redistributed to plain and pepperoni. Let’s say two of them selected pepperoni as their second choice, bringing it to seven votes, and two selected plain as their second choice, bringing it to nine votes. Nine votes give plain the majority, making it the winner.

Have questions? We are happy to answer. Shoot us an email at

Felipe De La Hoz is an immigration-focused journalist who has written investigative and analytic articles, explainers, essays, and columns for the New Republic, The Washington Post, New York Mag, Slate,...

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.