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The Election Is Finally Over. What’s Next and How Did Three Ballot Proposals Fail?

An early voting site at 70 Tompkins Ave. in Bedford-Stuyvesant. Oct. 29, 2021.
An early voting site at 70 Tompkins Ave. in Brooklyn.
Hiram Alejandro Durán/ THE CITY

This article is adapted from our Civic Newsroom newsletter. You can sign up here to get it.


The votes are (mostly) in and here’s what to know about how things have shaken out in the general election that ended Nov. 2.

Here’s a look at the latest on the results, what the mayor-elect is up to now, what the heck happened with those ballot questions — and how New York’s political district lines will get drawn next year.

The Council

The new City Council will have more women than ever before, with a first-time female majority in the body, including its first Muslim woman, Shahana Hanif, in Brooklyn’s District 39.

The Council may also double its share of Republicans, from three to six, if the GOP candidates in close races prevail.

We wrote about one of the closest races, in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn — in which the Democrat incumbent, Justin Brannan, and Republican Brian Fox are separated by just 255 votes — and how turnout and discontent among the district’s Republicans may push Brannan out.

We won’t know the official final results of New York’s elections for another few weeks. The city Board of Elections said it would start counting absentee ballots on Monday, Nov. 15 and work every day — except Thanksgiving and the Friday after — until the job is done.

How many votes do BOE workers still have to count? As of Nov. 5, the BOE said it had received 87,221 returned absentee ballots in the five boroughs. (Overall, just over 1,000,000 people cast ballots in early in-person voting and on Election Day.)

That’s a small sliver of the total, but in a close contest like in the Brannan-Fox battle, a few hundred ballots could tip the scale. The BOE has reported that Democrats requested 2,379 absentee ballots in Brannan’s 43rd Council District and Republicans and other voters requested 891. The board said it had received nearly half of the ballots back as of late afternoon on Nov. 3.

The (Almost) Mayor

Since Election Day, mayor-elect Eric Adams has been busy.

First, he did a media blitz following his win, bringing his brand to a national audience, as we reported.

Then, Adams went to “Somos el Futuro,” the political convention in Puerto Rico that many New York lobbyists, politicians and political organizers attend annually for schmoozing in the sun.

It’s a strange ritual. Our friends at WNYC had a great explainer on what Somos is, and why it matters. Meanwhile, our reporting last week showed that a federal judge barred former state Senate Majority Leader John Samson, a pal of Adams who is now on parole, from attending Somos this year — because the temptation for wrongdoing was too strong at the island event.

Adams later hopped from San Juan to the Dominican Republic, where he met with business leaders and members of the country’s legislature, making good on a campaign promise to visit, as NY1 reported.

And jockeying has already begun on who will decide who gets to join Adams’ administration. The CEO of the United Way of New York, Sheena Wright, will lead his transition team — the group of people who officially weigh in on key hiring decisions, such as choosing the next police commissioner or schools chancellor.

Though the transition team will no doubt play a big role in those decisions, it’s good to keep in mind those closest to Adams may not officially be on the hiring committee list. Now is a great time to brush up on who’s in Adams’ inner circle.

The Ballot Initiatives

As we’ve previously noted, New Yorkers tend to approve ballot questions most of the time. But not this year.

Three of the five ballot proposals in the general election got shot down, including two that would have paved the way for same-day voter registration and no-excuse absentee ballots.

How did this happen? The Albany Times Union and The New York Times uncovered some answers. In short: Republicans spent time and money urging voters to specifically nix Proposals 1, 3 and 4 — and turnout in rural and suburban counties against the ballot questions couldn’t make up for anemic support in urban areas​​.

Plus, New York’s Democratic Party hardly put up a fight.

When asked about the proposals, party Chairman Jay Jacobs said nobody asked him to fund a campaign supporting the proposals — so he didn’t, the Times Union reported.

“Maybe, in that sense, the ball was dropped, but I will tell you that is not something that came to my attention,” Jacobs said.

Redistricting

Because Proposal 1 failed to pass, New York has even less time to finish the redrawing of its political district based on 2020 census population figures.

The Independent Redistricting Commission currently has until Jan. 1 to submit maps to the legislature for congressional, state Senate and Assembly districts.

If the maps are rejected, a second set must be submitted by Feb. 28.

Why do these deadlines matter? Because candidates running for office in those districts that still need to be drawn need to get their signature-gathering process started by late February or early March to get on the ballot for next year’s June primary.

In other words: Redistricting might run smack into New York’s primary … and then we’re in a pickle, according to Jeff Wice, a New York Law School professor and redistricting expert.

“The legislature may need to consider changes in the spring primary calendar if the commission needs to submit a second set of maps in February 2022,” he said after Proposal 1, which would have pushed the timetable up by two weeks, failed.

In the meantime, the Commission is taking input from the public this week as it formulates the district lines it will submit to the legislature.

This is your chance to make your voice heard on how much your neighborhood gets gerrymandered or not. Here’s the meeting schedule:

  • Wednesday, Nov. 10, at 3 p.m. | Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College, 695 Park Ave.
  • Monday, Nov. 15, at 3 p.m. | CYO Center at Catholic Charities of Staten Island, 6541 Hylan Blvd.
  • Tuesday, Nov. 16, at 3 p.m. | Medgar Evers College, 1650 Bedford Ave.
  • Wednesday, Nov. 17, at 3 p.m. | Bassin Performing Arts Center at York College, 94-45 Guy Brewer Blvd.

What We’re Reading

  • What’s a top priority for mayor-elect Eric Adams? To reform bail reform, and give back discretion to judges, the New York Post reported.
  • The judicial inquiry into the 2014 killing of Eric Garner on Staten Island came to a close late last week. The New York Times has five key takeaways.
  • Be gone, “three men in a room.” Here are the 100 women leaders to know about in New York State, starting with our governor, attorney general and State Senate majority leader.
  • A new beat? Covering labor is having a moment amid “political turmoil, economic change and a pandemic-driven focus on how we work,” Ben Smith writes in The Times.

If you have any questions about the election process, let us know by sending a note to civicnewsroom@thecity.nyc. You can sign up to get our Civic Newsroom updates to your email inbox here.

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