Don't Blame RCV: Election Results Take Time and That's OK

NEW YORK, NY (06/24/2021) (readMedia)-- Voters can expect to know the results of NYC's first ranked choice voting election in a few weeks -- thanks to pro-voter election laws. Currently, state law doesn't allow the Board of Elections (BOE) to begin counting ballots until June 29. Why wait a week? Well, in New York a voter can vote via absentee and then later change their mind and vote in person (only the in person vote counts) so the BOE must check to make sure a voter only voted once. Then, absentee voters have a week for their ballots to get to the BOE (ballots must be postmarked by today). And now, thanks to a new, excellent law, a voter can correct or "cure" their absentee ballot over a small mistake, like forgetting his or her signature. The BOE contacts voters about the opportunity to fix their mistake, and corrected ballots are due back by July 9.

Reminder: we likely wouldn't know the official results until July 12 even if this were a winner-take-all election like we've had in the past. That's because of two things:

  • The increase in voters taking advantage of no fault absentee ballots
  • The high chance of a run-off election due to the fact that it's unlikely that anyone will clear 40% on election night. If this were a winner take all election, we'd be waiting approximately 2-3 weeks -- or the same amount of time -- for a run-off election. Except then, we could expect low turn-out and a high price tag. No thanks! RCV is a one shot that saves voters time and money.


  • June 29: The RCV rounds will be conducted next week on only the in-person votes. The software is instantaneous but these results will still be INCOMPLETE, as they will only include early and in-person votes.
  • July 6: the BOE will release an updated RCV count with the absentee ballots they've received and counted so far, and will continue to update these results weekly until all ballots are in and the count is certified.
  • July 12: likely date of final results which will include final round-by-round tabulation as needed.

"Democracy takes time, and every vote counts. Accurate and fair election results are worth waiting for," said Susan Lerner, Executive Director of Common Cause/NY. "One of the many benefits to ranked choice voting is that it negates the need for multi-million dollar run-off elections, which usually take place 2-3 weeks later. Even if no one clears 50% on Election Day, we'll get the results in a comparable amount of time with none of the additional cost or diminished turn out."