New Yorkers start early primary voting in mayoral race, dozens of contests

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New York City residents began going to the polls Saturday to vote in primary elections for the next mayor and a host of citywide and local offices, in what are some of the most hotly contested races in years.

Voters not only had to sift through a crowded field of mayoral candidates — 13 on the Democratic ballot and two on the Republican — but were being asked to rank their choices for the first time in a citywide election.

“It was a challenge to rank all five; it was very easy for number one,” Democratic mayoral candidate Kathryn Garcia quipped Saturday morning outside the polls at John Jay High School in Park Slope.

The former sanitation commissioner arrived at the site 7:30 a.m. with her mom, son and daughter. She was among about 15 voters waiting when the doors opened at 8.

“I haven’t been a politician,” Garcia said after casting her ballot. “This is the first time I’m doing this and it’s very exciting to be able to be voting for real transformational change in the city of New York.”

Voter Gerri Whitsett, 86, was first in line to vote at the high school and said she wasn’t enthusiastic about any of the choices, but liked Maya Wiley.

“They all lie,” she said. “I’ve been voting since 1920. And I always vote.”

Other candidates were forgoing voting to attend rallies. Eric Adams planned to go to a “Youth for Eric” event at Cadman Plaza Park in Brooklyn. Maya Wiley and Andrew Yang were set to join the Rev. Al Sharpton for a rally in Harlem.

Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Jamaal Bowman scheduled a Saturday morning rally in Astoria to push progressive candidates Jumaane Williams, who is seeking re-election as public advocate; Brad Lander, who is vying to be comptroller; and Tiffany Caban, who is running for City Council in Queens.

In addition to 47 Council races around the city, all five boroughs have Democratic primaries to pick candidates for borough president and there is also a Republican primary on Staten Island in that contest.

Unlike the start of early voting in November’s presidential race, turnout was light Saturday morning. A Board of Elections map showed wait times were less than 20 minutes at the 104 early voting sites.

Early voting will continue through June 20 and then there will be a one-day break before Primary Day on June 22. The polls are open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and will follow the same schedule Sunday, but will then vary by day.

Both early voting ballots and those from Primary Day are expected to be tallied on June 22. Then the Board of Elections will wait until June 28 to begin opening absentee ballots. Counting is expected to continue into July and the BOE has given no firm date for when it will complete the process.

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