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When are the NYC mayor elections held?

The primary election for New York City mayor is an important one and there are plenty of viable candidates, most notably on the Democratic side.

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When are the NYC mayor elections held?
SHANNON STAPLETON REUTERS

It's Tuesday 22 June 2021 and today's primary election for New York City mayor could be the most momentous in a generation, as the Big Apple struggles to emerge from a devastating pandemic. Here's everything you need to know:

High stakes New York election

The most populous US city is recovering from a coronavirus pandemic that killed more than 30,000 residents and infected nearly one million, but stark challenges remain. It suffers from economic inequality, a lack of affordable housing, a growing homelessness problem and effectively segregated schools.

Meanwhile, a wave of shootings has put public safety at the core of the campaign. The election's outcome could offer fresh evidence of how the Democratic Party is navigating the thorny issue of combating crime, a year after nationwide protests over police brutality gave rise to calls of "defund the police" from many progressive voices.

Plenty viable candidates

The race has been fluid, with as many as eight out of 13 Democratic candidates seen as viable and polling data in relatively short supply.

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, a former police captain, appears to be the front-runner. But civil rights attorney Maya Wiley, former presidential candidate Andrew Yang and former sanitation chief Kathryn Garcia are all within striking distance in public surveys.

The winner of the Democratic primary in all likelihood will prevail in November's general election. Democratic voters outnumber Republicans by more than six to one, and the Republican candidates vying for their party's nod on Tuesday are not considered a threat to the Democratic nominee.

New voting system in use

Adding to the uncertainty is a new system known as ranked-choice voting, or RCV, in which voters can rank up to five candidates in order of preference.

RCV operates as a series of instant run-offs: if no candidate exceeds 50% of the vote among first choices, the candidate in last place is eliminated, and that person's votes are re-allocated to the voters' second choices.

The tabulation continues, round after round, until there are two candidates left, giving the one with the majority the victory.

When will the results be announced?

Initial results showing voters' first-choice picks are expected Tuesday night. But the final vote tally and winner may not be known until mid-July, according to election officials.

Absentee ballots are accepted until 29 June as long as they were postmarked by Tuesday. In addition, voters are allowed to fix any ballot errors up until 9 July.

On 29 June, the city Board of Elections plans to run its first round of ranked-choice results, which will show who would have won based on in-person votes only.

One week later, the board will issue a second round of results that includes all absentee ballots processed as of that day. It will continue to do so once a week until all ballots are counted, with final results expected the week of 12 July.