Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Former Police Officer Eric Adams Leads New York City Mayoral Vote Count

I had to struggle hard to find some preliminary results of yesterdays New York City mayoral Democratic primary.  I finally found those results buried in a FiveThirtyEight article on the election.  According to that website, as of 2 a.m. this morning, with 799,827 ballots counted the results were:

Eric Adams - 32%
Maya Wiley  - 22%
Kathryn Garcia - 20%
Andrew Yang - 12%+
Numerous Other Candidates - 6% or below

But there are still outstanding absentee ballots.  As long as those ballots are postmarked by yesterday (June 22nd) and received by June 29th, they will be counted.    This year more than 220,000 NYC voters asked for an absentee ballot and thus far only 82% have been returned.

In addition to a delay because of allowing ballots post-election to count, there is also a "curing" period in which voters can fix ballots that are deemed defective.  So there will be a delay because of that as well.

But that is not the sole reason for the delay.  The NYC mayor's race uses ranked choice voting in which voters list their top five candidates.  If no candidate receives 50%, the second choice of those voters who ranked the last place candidate first gets reassigned to the remaining candidates.  If no candidate still has a majority, they move on to the second-to-last candidate and reassign those voters' second choice. This continues until a candidate receives 50% plus support.   This process, which is a type of instant run-off system, is difficult to explain but really not that complicated.

Adams is a former police officer and current Brooklyn borough President.  A former Republican, Adams ran on a tough on crime platform.  Adams would have been my favorite had he not come out the day before the election as a major asshole.  During a campaign stop on Monday, Adams mocked Yang "What is Andrew Yang still doing in this race?"  You know? I mean, listen, we know Andrew Yang is a fraud, he's a liar. We could care less about Andrew Yang."  Yang at that time was a vanquished foe, a person whose campaign went off the rails weeks earlier.  Adams could have taken the high road and acted with grace, which would have been a better choice given that he might want to pick up some of Yang voters to list him as an alternative.  Further, since Adams probably lives in New Jersey, while pretending to live in Brooklyn, it might not be a good idea to call someone else a "fraud."

NYC officials are now saying it will take 3 weeks, until at least June 12th, to count all the votes due to the reassignment of votes required by ranked choice voting.  Okay, I get the delay due to the counting of post-Election Day absentee votes and the curing process.  I do decry it though.  As I warned before the 2020 election, delays in announcing the winner can have severe consequences such as, I don't know, a losing presidential candidate intentionally undermining the integrity of election results by prematurely claiming victory.

I do not understand, however, the delay in announcing the winner due to the reallocation of votes under the ranked voting system.  This seems like a job tailor-made for something we folks outside NYC call a "computer."  One would think NYC would be on the cutting edge of technology, but the opposite is quite often true.  For example, many NYC residents were late to get cable TV and high speed internet.

Ranked choice voting has really grown on me.  It appears to cause candidates to moderate their tone and acts to block nutjob candidates who could otherwise win a primary with just a plurality of support.  

OOP's short takes:

  • Today's 8-1 Supreme Court vote for the student cheerleader's free speech rights further illustrates the need to get before the SCT an attorney free speech case.  To keep this brief, most state attorney disciplinary bodies take the position that attorneys do not have the free speech right to criticize members of the judiciary under the theory that negative criticism, even if done in good faith and, in some cases even if factually accurate, could undermine the integrity of the judicial branch.  There are a lot of problems with this position, but the major one legally is that, in disciplining attorneys who speak out, these disciplinary bodies ignore the New York Times v. Sullivan actual malice standard.  I think a strong majority of Supreme Court justices would support attorney free speech. The challenge is getting such a case to the Court.
  • The Supreme Court also today ruled unanimously that police will sometimes require a warrant to pursue a minor offender who has retreated into his or her home.  Given the consensus support of the rights of criminal suspects that exist on the current Supreme Court I'd love to see the Court take up a civil forfeiture case.  Lord knows there are plenty of abuses out there which would make for a good precedent.
  • I am all for Juneteenth being a holiday.  The more summer holidays the better.  And having a holiday to recognize the end of slavery - the most divisive issue in our history - is a good idea.  As a side note, I would encourage people to watch the PBS documentary "Slavery By Another Name" - vestiges of slavery continued long after 1865.
  • I'm not opposed to adding another warm weather holiday to the calendar.  But let's take a balanced approach and get rid of a few.  Columbus Day?  Christopher Columbus wasn't the first person to make it to America. He wasn't even the first European.  We celebrate a man who got lost and thought he had landed in India.  Stupid holiday.
  • Then we have President's Day.  If we were celebrating Washington or Lincoln's birthday that would be one thing. But we're celebrating everyone who ever achieved the office of the Presidency, including people who were completely unfit for the office and/or corrupt. This includes Presidents like James Buchanan, Andrew Johnson, Richard Nixon and Donald Trump.  (Trump, by the way, was the first President who was both unfit and corrupt.) 
  • Unfortunately, Washington and Lincoln's birthdays are both in January, the same month we celebrate Presidents' Day.   We already have Christmas, New Years, and MLK Day. That's enough holidays in the dead of winter.  More summer holidays. That's the ticket. 

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