Picking who to vote for in an election with a crowded field, numerous scandals, and New York City’s recovery at stake is already a difficult task — but picking five candidates? In the upcoming mayoral primary, voters are being asked to do just that as ranked-choice voting makes its citywide electoral debut. To help at the polls, Curbed spoke with two dozen elected officials, activists, and other notable New Yorkers about how they’re ranking the candidates, the issues they care about most, and how they’re approaching this new moment in New York City elections.
As each endorsement or scandal drives poll numbers up and down, many voters are regularly changing their mental rankings. So a note about timing: Interviews were conducted after Kathryn Garcia was endorsed by the New York Times and the Dianne Morales campaign began to implode, but before Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez announced that she was backing Maya Wiley and a second woman came forward with allegations of sexual misconduct against Scott Stringer.
While this is ranked choice’s biggest test yet in New York, it’s not the first. A few special elections have been decided on ranked-choice ballots since February, and the instant-runoff system was first put into practice when none of the nine candidates in the City Council race for District 31 in Queens reached the “50 percent plus one vote” threshold necessary to claim victory. Over the three weeks after the deadlock, Board of Elections officials hand-counted ballots, whittling down the field until Selvena Brooks-Powers, a veteran government strategist, tallied 51.6 percent of the 7,451 votes. And with the most recent mayoral-primary poll showing Eric Adams in the lead with just 22 percent of the vote, it’s highly likely the naming of a winner could be similarly drawn out — with second or even third and fourth picks making all the difference.
“It’s very unfortunate what has happened to Morales’s campaign. I have a tremendous amount of respect for her, but I certainly think she should be negotiating in good faith. Union-busting allegations aside, I have not seen any mayoral candidate who has centered the issues around queer people of color in this city the way Morales has. That’s important for me. She would have been my No. 1 pick had those allegations not come up.” —Elisa Crespo
Min Jin Lee, novelist
“Years ago, my shrink told me that the goal in life is to simplify. So I will walk over to the poll site, choose three candidates in ranked order, thank the poll workers, then buy myself an ice cream for being a good citizen.”
An earlier version of this article ranked Nixon’s picks definitively. However, while Nixon will rank Wiley, Morales, and Stringer in her top three, she has not shared in which order.