Three weeks after voters went to the polls in one Queens City Council district, their ballots are now being manually tabulated as part of ranked-choice voting.
“We’re been patiently waiting for this day to come. It’s been quite some time," said candidate Selvena Brooks-Powers.
“It’s a whirlwind phenomenon for all of us. We’re all waiting. We’re all excited," said candidate Pesach Osina.
It’ll take several days, and it’ll the determine the next City Council member for the 31st District in southeast Queens and Far Rockaway.
On Tuesday, election workers finished their first day of tallying the 7,400 ballots, sorting the first-choice votes by candidate into plastic bins labeled with their names.
If the combined in-person and absentee count of first-choice votes reflects the Election Night results — when Selvena Brooks-Powers got 38% of the vote and Pesach Osina 35% — no candidate will get a majority.
In that case, the worst performer in the field of nine will be eliminated and the ballots in their bin redistributed by second-choice votes.
The process will go on until someone surpasses 50%.
“I’ve been here all day watching," Susan Lerner, executive director of Common Cause New York executive director, said at the ballot-counting site in Queens. "It’s very well thought-out, it’s very organized and very orderly. And it’s absolutely clear what they’re doing and how to understand the process.”
The special election is the first time the city has needed to count ranked-choice voting ballots.
The method allowing voters to rank their candidates in order of preference will be used citywide in the June primaries.
The rollout has been bumpy.
It included a failed lawsuit to delay implementation.
And in this race, the city Board of Elections is conducting the count by hand because its state counterpart is still examining new tabulation software.
That software is expected to be certified in time for future races.
Osina said: “This district came out and voted. I just to make sure just like the campaign was a campaign that we ran for the whole district. I want to make sure that everyone’s vote will be counted properly and fairly.”
Brooks-Powers said: “I’m faithful person, so for me, I just feel like whatever’s to be is going to to be at this point. We ran a very good race. We connected with so many people in the community. And we left it really all on the floor.”