Election Day has finally arrived and Queens residents are hitting the polls to cast their votes in the hotly contested local and citywide races.
Early voting, which took place from June 12 to 20, saw a low voter turnout for Queens residents. Approximately 35,361 Queens residents turned out for early voting, making up 18 percent of nearly 200,000 early voters citywide, according to the New York City Board of Elections‘ (BOE) preliminary count.
But Queens saw the most absentee ballots requested of any borough, with more than 66,000 requested and more than 23,000 completed ahead of Tuesday, June 22, according to the BOE.
This is 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 amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
In almost no time, the people of Queens and the city as a whole are casting their ranked ballots for some of the most important offices in the city — and perhaps the most consequential election for New York City in years — including mayor, comptroller, public advocate, borough presidents and City Council members.
The official results will not be in until the anticipated date of July 12, but preliminary unofficial results will be available as soon as the end of the night.
Polling sites are open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. To find your polling site, visit findmypollsite.vote.nyc.
At the polls
Voter turnout seemed relatively low in Queens, with few voters seen at polling sites in every corner of the borough as of 1:30 p.m.
The turnout was very light at P.S. 254 in Richmond Hill, with no lines at all at about 8:25 a.m.
Francine Canvela from Middle Village said she is a fan of ranked-choice voting.
“You’re not stuck in just picking one,” Canvela said. “I’m not a mathematician; hopefully the one who’s the most favored will win.”
Patricia Millar, a Republican from Middle Village, said crime is an important issue when choosing who to vote for.
“As a woman in Middle Village, it is a safe neighborhood, but in general I don’t feel as safe as I used to,” Millar said.
Paul Petovello, a Democrat from Middle Village, also prioritized crime prevention when voting.
“I feel safe here, but from what I’ve seen in the subways and in general, people are getting hurt all over,” Petovello said.
Petovello, an electrician, credits the crime to people being released from jail on reform programs.
“Got [to] keep them in jail — if they do the crime they do the time,” Petovello said.
Petovello voted for Eric Adams because of his police background. He felt Adams would be able to control the crime rate all over the city.
Candidates continue campaigning in Astoria
At P.S. 122 in Astoria, voter turnout was also low in the early morning hours.
Tiffany Cabán, one of six Democratic City Council candidates for District 22 in Astoria, cast her vote at P.S. 122.
Cabán told QNS she was encouraged to see 20 percent of early voters in Queens were first-time primary voters.
“That’s pretty cool,” Cabán said. “So, for me, what that tells me is that one, we’re expanding the electorate. We’re getting more people involved, and again, I think that based on the candidates that we see out there — overwhelmingly progressive candidates across the borough — that the people that are coming out are progressive, working-class folks.”
Cabán was joined by volunteers from her campaign team, Assemblywoman Jessica González-Rojas and New York City Comptroller candidate Brad Lander.
Lander, who is currently the councilman for District 39 in Brooklyn, said he loves Election Day because it’s “fun to be out talking to people.”
He said while results won’t be finalized until July 22, preliminary results for some races should be telling.
“We’ll see about ours,” Lander said, referring to the comptroller race. “I don’t think anyone in our race will get close to 51 percent tonight.”
Leonardo Bullaro, another candidate for City Council in District 22, was also at P.S. 122 with some of his campaign workers, speaking with voters.
Bullaro said he too felt “energized” after more than a year of campaigning.
“We got tons of volunteers on all the poll sites. We’re still making calls we’re still door-knocking. We’re just excited,” Bullaro said. “I think our message around really being practical problem-solvers for local issues for the community is resonating. We just need the people to come out and vote — and it’s an important election, so I encourage everyone to go out and vote.”
As of 10 a.m., there were more than 200 ballots cast at P.S. 234 in Astoria.
Polling site supervisor Bobb Moratti said voters didn’t have any issues with the ranked-choice voting ballot. Only a few made mistakes while filling out their ballots, and those incorrectly filled out ballots were replaced with new ones.
Jackie Hogan and Gavin Lui cast their ballots at P.S. 166 in Astoria, saying they’re fans of ranked-choice voting.
“I like that we’re able to kind of cast ballots for multiple candidates because sometimes you might like more than one, but you like one than the other,” Hogan said. “So it was nice to be able to put all your choices on the ballot.”
Lui said he was familiar with the process before it was implemented so he didn’t go to the polls with a “beginner’s point of view.”
“But I think with anything new, people are going to have a hard time in the beginning, and it’s just a matter of getting acclimated to it,” Lui said.
Skepticism about ranked-choice voting in southeast Queens
In Rochdale Village at P.S. 80, located at 171-05 137th Ave., poll site coordinator Tina Young has been running around since 6 a.m. helping volunteers and voters.
About 170 ballots have been cast since the site opened this morning, Young said.
“I didn’t expect this many people. I haven’t sat down yet and my coffee is cold,” Young said. “Every time I sit down to have a sip, I hear, ‘Tina!’ and the flow of people is good, although I’m 10 workers short. We are pulling through.”
For Nikki Breedlove, who cast her ballot at the Rochdale Village Community Center, ranked-choice voting is a system that “disenfranchises” the Black and brown communities. She believes it puts them at a disadvantage.
“Blacks and browns don’t turn out the same way to vote like other areas,” Breedlove said. “Then what happens? We are the ones that suffer and it’s not the other communities and that’s terrible. We do vote, but we don’t vote in primaries and we don’t vote when need to vote and that hurts us.”
According to Breedlove, she had misinterpreted ranked-choice voting differently when she, among other people, chose the new voting system in 2019.
“The way it was written on the ballot when we voted for it is not the way it’s being explained now,” Breedlove said. “Had I understood the interpretation I wouldn’t have voted for it.”
But the new voting system has been found to not only benefit those communities in particular, but also elevate candidates who are of color and who are women, according to FairVote.org.
Breedlove said she didn’t use the system in this election.
“I voted for who I wanted and I’ll deal with it if they don’t make it to the other side,” Breedlove said.
In a community with mostly seniors, Breedlove said they have had some difficulty understanding the ballot.
One senior who walked out said she was confused.
“I didn’t understand it at all. I just voted for one person,” the resident said.
Meanwhile, Hollis residents trickled in to P.S. 35 Nathaniel Woodhull at 191-02 90th Ave., where 80 ballots were cast as of this morning.
For Terry Moses, it was important for him to come out and vote for a new mayor.
“I don’t like the mayor we currently have. I made a mistake last time listening to my wife who told me to vote for him,” Moses said. “She was wrong because de Blasio is the worst thing that ever happened for a mayor in mayor history.”
According to Moses, he voted for one person five times in a row on his ballot — which is the incorrect way to cast your vote in a ranked-choice ballot. For a brief explainer on how to rank your vote, click here.
Approval of ranked-choice in Bayside
Voter turnout was very low at Bayside High School as of early afternoon on Tuesday.
Nicholas Seotchie, neighborhood resident, argued that electoral reform has been an ongoing issue in the U.S. He supports ranked-choice voting, noting some states and cities already implemented the system.
“I think I was sufficiently educated on how to use it and the process went smoothly,” Seotchie said.
He said he learned about ranked-choice voting because he has a general interest in politics. Seotchie said he’s most excited about voting for the city’s next mayor.
“It’s arguably the most pivotal one,” he said, adding that it will really showcase the new voting system.
Joel Simon also voted at Bayside High School. He said ranked-choice voting is “pretty simple” and “easy.”
Simon, who’s most excited to vote for mayor and Queens borough president, said he got a grasp of the new system through the media and mailings that he’s received from the Board of Elections.
Progressive priorities in Ridgewood
In Ridgewood, Molly Lahmann, a neighborhood artist, felt very strongly as she cast her ballot for District 30 City Council candidate Juan Ardila.
“[I am] making sure bigots don’t get voted in again,” Lahmann said. “[Ardila] prioritizes housing and social justice.”
Lahmann felt that the incumbent Councilman Robert Holden has treated communities of color much differently than white constituents.
A group of young voters in Ridgewood cast their ballot for mayoral candidate Maya Wiley, hoping she’ll prioritize social justice issues like police brutality in the city.
One of the young voters, Emily Janowick, said that she would be voting for Ardila because of Holden’s conservative reputation and his handling of the homeless shelter on Cooper Avenue.
“It’s been a disaster, and the things he has said … he treats other people like trash,” Janowick said. “It’s disgusting. This is a historically pretty conservative area, and he has built his following from that.”
Janowick said that, though Holden’s a Democrat, he acts “more like a Republican” to stay in office.
The young group collectively mentioned they would be voting for candidates like Ardila to make sure the people who have lived in Ridgewood for decades won’t be affected by gentrification.
“We’re trying hardest to make sure the people who have lived in this neighborhood aren’t displaced by people like us,” Sam Cockrell said.
Voters trickle in at Fresh Meadows
In Fresh Meadows, there has been a higher voter turnout at P.S. 26 Rufus King, located at 195-02 69th Ave., with 373 ballots cast as of early afternoon on Tuesday, according to a poll site worker.
Amy Tse, a resident of Fresh Meadows for 25 years, said three issues made her come out to vote: safety on the streets and subways, education and homeless shelters.
“When it comes to safety it’s not just relevant for my community — the Asian community — but for everyone,” Tse said. “If you don’t feel safe in your community, nothing else matters.”
In terms of ranked-choice voting, Tse said she can’t imagine what it must be like for people who are not familiar with it.
“I anticipate a lot of people having problems,” said Tse, who has voted in every primary election and has been a registered Democrat since the age of 18.
When she came to vote, Tse already knew who she would vote for and rank before she received her ballot.
“It wasn’t until I got down to comptroller and filled two bubbles the same and the scanner rejected it,” Tse said.
Tse said she worries for people who voted absentee and may have a mistake in their ballot.
“I think a lot of people who voted absentee and made a mistake can’t correct it and the ballot would be invalidated,” Tse said. “That’s why I think people prefer going to the polling sites.”
Another Fresh Meadows resident said she is also concerned about crime and safety.
“It’s not the people that’s in charge. It’s the people themselves that are causing this problem,” she said.
Below is a list of candidates appearing on the ballot. Visit PoliticsNY.com to learn more about the candidates.
Queens borough president
DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATES: Elizabeth Crowley, Donovan Richards (incumbent), Jimmy Van Bramer
REPUBLICAN CANDIDATES: Danniel Maio, Thomas Zmich
City Council District 19
DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATES: Tony Avella, Adriana Aviles, Nabaraj KC, Austin Shafran, Richard J. Lee, Francis E. Spangenberg
REPUBLICAN CANDIDATES: John-Alexander Sakelos, Vickie Paladino
CONSERVATIVE CANDIDATES: Dawn A. Anatra
City Council District 20
DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATES: Hailing Chen, John Choe, Anthony Miranda, Sandra Ung, Neng Wang, Ming-Kang Lao, Dao Yin, Ellen Young
City Council District 21
DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATES: David Aiken Jr., Ingrid Gomez, Francisco Moya (incumbent), George Onuorah, Talea Wufka
City Council District 22
DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATES: Leonardo Bullaro, Tiffany Cabán, John J. Ciafone, Catherina Gioino, Evie Hantzopoulos, Nicholas Velkov
City Council District 23
DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATES: Steve Behar, Jaslin Kaur, Sanjeev Kumar Jindal, Linda Lee, Debra Markell, Harpreet Singh Toor, Koshy O. Thomas
REPUBLICAN CANDIDATES: Alex Amoroso, James F. Reilly
City Council District 24
DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATES: Moumita Ahmed, James F. Gennaro (incumbent), Saifur R. Khan, Mohammad Uddin
REPUBLICAN CANDIDATES: Angelo King, Timothy Rosen
City Council District 25
DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATES: Fatima Baryab, Yi Andy Chen, Shekar Krishnan, Liliana Melo, Manuel F. Perez, Alfonso Quiroz, William Salgado, Carolyn Tran
City Council District 26
DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATES: Amit Bagga, Jonathan Bailey, Lorenzo Brea, Julia Forman, Glennis Gomez, Badrun Khan, Denise Keehan-Smith, Hailie Kim, Jesse Laymon, Sultan Maruf, Brent O’Leary, Steven Raga, Emily Sharpe, Julie Won, Ebony Young
City Council District 27
DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATES: Marie Adam-Ovide, Kerryann Burke, Jason Myles Clark, Leroy Gadsden, Linda Guillebeaux, Esq., Rene Hill, James Johnson, Al-Hassan Kanu, Harold C. Miller Jr., Anthony Rivers, Jermaine Sean Smith, Nantasha Williams
City Council District 28
DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATES: Adrienne E. Adams (incumbent), Japneet Singh, Ruben Wills
City Council District 29
DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATES: David Aronov, Avi Cyperstein, Sheryl Fetik, Aleda Gagarin, Eliseo Labayen, Lynn Schulman, Douglas Shapiro, Edwin Wong, Donghui Zang
City Council District 30
DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATES: Juan Ardila, Robert Holden (incumbent)
City Council District 31
DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATES: Selvena Brooks-Powers (incumbent), Nicole S. Lee, Nancy J. Martinez
City Council District 32
DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATES: Kaled A. Alamarie, Bella A. Matias, Michael G. Scala, Felicia Singh, Shaeleigh Severino, Helal A. Sheikh
REPUBLICAN CANDIDATES: Joann Ariola, Stephen A. Sirgiovanni
DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATES: Eric Adams, Art Chang, Shaun Donovan, Aaron Foldenauer, Kathryn Garcia, Ray McGuire, Dianne Morales, Paperboy Love Prince, Scott Stringer, Jocelyn Taylor, Isaac Wright Jr., Andrew Yang
REPUBLICAN CANDIDATES: Fernando Mateo, Curtis Sliwa
Public advocate’s race
DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATES: Theo Bruce Chino Tavarez, Anthony Herbert, Jumaane Williams (incumbent)
DEMORCRATIC CANDIDATES: Brian Benjamin, Michelle Caruso-Cabrera, Zach Iscol, Corey Johnson, Brad Lander, Terri Liftin, Alex Pan, Kevin Parker, Reshma Patel, David Weprin
This is a developing story. This story was updated at 4 p.m.
Check back with QNS for live updates throughout the day.
Additional reporting by Gabriele Holtermann.