New York real-estate giant The Durst Organization says it will fire non-union workers who fail to get a COVID-19 shot by Labor Day

Douglas Durst, chairman of The Durst Organization, wears a white shirt and black waistcoat in a corporate meeting room.
Douglas Durst is chairman of The Durst Organization

  • The Durst Organization has told about 350 staff they must get vaccinated by September 6.
  • Staff who refuse will be “separated from the company,” Crain’s New York first reported.
  • The real-estate giant will apply the rule to its non-union corporate workers.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A New York City real estate developer has told about 350 workers that it will fire them if they don’t get a COVID-19 vaccine by Labor Day, September 6.

The Durst Organization, a $8.1 billion family-owned company, said certain staff will be exempt for “medical or religious” reasons.

It will only apply the vaccine rule to its corporate, non-union workers, and not its roughly 700 union employees, who include building service workers and cleaners, Crain’s New York first reported.

“For our corporate employees, unless they receive a medical or religious accommodation, if they are not vaccinated by Sept. 6th they will be separated from the company,” Durst spokesman Jordan Barowitz told Crain’s.

A Durst spokesperson confirmed the policy to Insider.

It is not clear whether Durst’s corporate workers will need just one or both shots of a COVID-19 vaccine under the new rule. The organization did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for clarification.

Barowitz told the New York Post that Durst had informed corporate employees of the new mandate in June, and that it was “driven by the wishes of the employees who want to work in a safer environment.”

Durst’s union workers – who include building service workers, cleaners, and doormen – are protected under a collective bargaining agreement, an unnamed source familiar with the matter told The Post.

Read more: Zamir Kazi bought his first duplex in 2012 and his firm now owns more than 3,300 units. He breaks down the path to building his portfolio – and shares his best advice for breaking into real estate investing today.

Employers have grappled with whether to implement strict vaccine mandates for employees as offices reopen. Companies can legally require their workers to get vaccinated or ban them from the office, The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) said in guidance published in June.

Tech giant Facebook announced Wednesday that it would require all staff working on its US campuses to be fully jabbed. Google CEO Sundar Pichai also said in a Wednesday press release that workers returning to the office must be fully vaccinated.

New York City’s government announced Monday that it would require all city workers to get vaccinated by September 13, or to take weekly tests. The number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in the city has increased over recent weeks, according to local government data.

Cases of the highly contagious Delta variant have surged in recent weeks across the US. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Tuesday that fully vaccinated people should wear masks in all public indoor settings in certain COVID-19 hot spots, reversing previous guidance it set in May.

Robert Durst, brother of the company’s chairman, Douglas Durst, is accused of murdering his friend, Susan Berman, in 2000, and is standing trial in Los Angeles.

Read the original article on Business Insider

NYC offers $100 to anyone who gets their first COVID-19 vaccine shot

Mayor of New York City Bill de Blasio speaks during the opening of a vaccination center for Broadway workers in Times Square on April 12, 2021 in New York City.
Mayor of New York City Bill de Blasio speaks during the opening of a vaccination center for Broadway workers in Times Square on April 12, 2021 in New York City.

  • NYC is offering $100 to anyone who goes to a city-run site to get the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • The new vaccine incentive was announced Wednesday amid increased concerns over the the Delta variant.
  • About 41% of NYC residents still haven’t gotten the shot, according to city data.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

New York City announced on Wednesday that anyone can receive $100 if they get the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at any city-run vaccination clinic. The incentive begins on Friday.

The announcement of a new vaccine incentive comes amid increasing concern over the spread of the Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus. The Centers for Disease Control announced yesterday that even fully vaccinated people should wear a mask in areas with “substantial or high transmission” of the virus.

According to a map from the CDC, all five of New York City’s counties have “substantial” levels of community transmission, meaning the new recommendations apply in the city.

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Monday that city workers must get the vacccine by September 13th or be subjected to weekly COVID-19 testing.

According to data from the Citywide Immunization Registry, 40.8% of New York City residents remain unvaccinated; 59.2% of all residents have received at least one dose.

Insider previously spoke to several top economists who proposed a similar idea — a $1,000 “vaccine stimulus” to combat vaccine hesitancy.

“If we somehow don’t get to true immunity, our economy will be operating with a huge weight on its chest,” Robert Litan, a non-resident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who served in the Bill Clinton administration, told Insider in November.

Click this link to locate a vaccination site in New York City.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Bed Bath & Beyond just reopened a truly massive 92,000-square-foot NYC store with a coffee shop – see inside

the entrance of the store
The entrance of the renovated Bed Bath & Beyond in New York City.

  • Bed Bath & Beyond has reopened its renovated flagship store in New York City.
  • It’s cleaner, brighter, and more modern than the traditional Bed Bath & Beyond store.
  • The 92,000-square-foot space has a SodaStream bar, cafe, interactive spaces, and a mini Casper store.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Gone are the days of chaotic college dorm and new home shopping at Bed Bath & Beyond.

the entrance of the store
The entrance of the renovated Bed Bath & Beyond in New York City.

As long as you’re in New York City, that is.

a view of the store's exterior from the street
Outside the renovated Bed Bath & Beyond in New York City.

Bed Bath & Beyond has reopened its renovated flagship store in the Chelsea neighborhood near the iconic Flatiron Building, and the store is cleaner and brighter than ever before.

a sign that says "Hello Chelsea" by the entrance of teh store
Inside the renovated Bed Bath & Beyond in New York City.

“We’re proud to invest here and add to New York City’s ‘return to normal’ to serve residents and visitors alike,” Mark Tritton, president and CEO of Bed Bath & Beyond, said in a press release.

A self checkout station in the store with products next to it
A self checkout station in the renovated Bed Bath & Beyond in New York City.

Source: Bed Bath & Beyond

The two-floor store has been under renovation since December 2020, and its doors just reopened on July 22.

neatly arranged products in front of tall windows
Inside the renovated Bed Bath & Beyond in New York City.

This new reopening is just one of 450 Bed Bath & Beyond stores the company plans to renovate over the next three years, a $250 million undertaking.

SodaStream's products displayed on a curving shelf
SodaStream products.

Now let’s take a closer look at the refreshed space.

a display of Our Table products
Our Table products inside the Bed Bath & Beyond in New York City.

The new store follows the company’s goal of becoming a “digital-first, omni-always retailer.”

a sign that says "moving" we can help" above towels
Inside the renovated Bed Bath & Beyond in New York City.

Source: Bed Bath & Beyond

The 92,000-square-foot shop has the typical Bed Bath & Beyond offerings, like kitchen tools, decor, bathroom necessities, and bedding …

A bed with Wild Sage products.
A bed with Wild Sage products.

… all with a new, organized flair.

kitchen and cooking tools arranged neatly onshelves
Products on display inside the renovated Bed Bath & Beyond in New York City.

The Chelsea location features products from both household companies and Bed Bath & Beyond’s private-label brands, which include Wild Sage and Our Table.

Wild Sage products by a sign asking customers to follow the brand on TikTok and Instagram
Wild Sage products.

But there are noticeably fewer travel-related products, which haven’t been selling well at this particular location, Lauren Thomas reported for CNBC.

the hallway towards the back of the store with blue walls
Inside the renovated Bed Bath & Beyond in New York City.

Source: CNBC

The space that would’ve carried travel goods is instead being used for more organization and bedding and bathroom products, which are primarily downstairs.

a mock bathroom setup
The bath section of the store.

Besides more home goods options, the store’s shelves have also been lowered to avoid “shopping paralysis,” according to the company.

the bathroom section with "dry off" and "refresh and renew" products
Inside the renovated Bed Bath & Beyond in New York City.

The lowered shelves allow customers to see to the other end of the massive store, creating a less cluttered shopping experience.

a sign that says "food storage" with tupperware under it
Products on display inside the renovated Bed Bath & Beyond in New York City.

The aisles are also wider, while the product displays are noticeably neater.

One of the walkways in the store
Inside the renovated Bed Bath & Beyond in New York City.

Unlike most Bed Bath & Beyond stores, the interior is bright and clean with the help of large windows, contemporary lighting, and a cohesive design.

A display of Wild Sage products with tall windows
A display of Wild Sage products.

“We know it’s hard to shop at our stores,” Joe Hartsig, chief merchandising officer at Bed Bath & Beyond, said, according to the CNBC report.

Bed Bath & Beyond's product displays of home goods
Our Table products inside the Bed Bath & Beyond in New York City.

Source: CNBC

“We’ve really tried to make it easier to navigate the aisles,” Hartsig continued. “The wider aisles are very clean. The presentation is very tight.”

cafe seating and lights
The cafe.

Source: CNBC

The store is also compatible with the retailer’s app’s “in-store shopping mode,” creating a cross between an in-person and digital shopping experience.

A card noting shopping through the app by bath products on display.
A card noting shopping through the app.

There’s even a “scan and buy” option that allows customers to skip the checkout lines.

a sign that says "scan and buy"
Inside the renovated Bed Bath & Beyond in New York City.

The section near the entry of the store is currently being used to sell college dorm goods, but the products here will change depending on the time of year.

the college section
Inside the renovated Bed Bath & Beyond in New York City’s college section.

Source: CNBC

Feeling parched? Head to the store’s SodaStream Bubble Bar, which has SodaStream demos and inspiration for drinks.

the sodastream bar with a worker
The SodaStream bar.

But if you’d rather have some coffee, the updated Bed Bath and Beyond also has the Cafe 3B …

a full look at the cafe with seating, lights, and the bar
The cafe.

… a coffee shop that serves snacks and La Colombe coffee.

the menu of the cafe with some of the store's countertops
The cafe.

There’s also the “only interactive vacuum display in New York City,” according to Bed Bath & Beyond, as well as a well-lit health and beauty product section…

The beauty and health products on lit up shelves
The health and beauty section.

… which includes travel-friendly items.

the mini essentials bins with small products
Mini essentials bins.

But if you’re looking for bedding instead of cleaning and beauty products, head downstairs to the mini Casper store.

casper products arranged neatly on shelves
The downstairs Casper section.

This space serves as the bedding and mattress company’s “first shop-in-shop,” according to Bed Bath & Beyond.

the upstairs Casper section
Casper products inside the Bed Bath & Beyond in New York City.

And it’s not just Casper: The store also has Dyson and Google nest displays.

The dedicated Google Home space with products and a lit up Google logo
The dedicated Google Home space.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Neighborhood-watch app Citizen is offering people $25 an hour to livestream crime scenes and house fires in NYC and Los Angeles

Citizen app
  • The app Citizen is hiring people to livestream crime scenes and emergencies, The NY Post reported.
  • The app gives users real-time safety updates, usually provided by volunteers.
  • These $20 an hour roles would involve interviewing witnesses and reporting “behind police tape.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Neighborhood-watch app Citizen is offering up to $25 an hour for people to livestream crime scenes in New York City and Los Angeles, according to a report by The New York Post.

The app, which describes itself as a “personal safety network,” sends real-time safety alerts to users, letting them know about crimes, accidents, and emergencies. Users can view reports on a map.

The incidents are based on recent 911 calls, with photos and videos uploaded by volunteers who happen to be nearby – but the app is now advertising for “field team members” on journalism job sites, The Post reported.

The work would include interviewing witnesses and police officials and reporting “behind police tape,” per the job listings.

Read more: Inside WeWork’s IPO meltdown: How Adam Neumann and Wall Street’s chaotic partnership obliterated $40 billion in value

Third-party casting agency Flyover Entertainment posted a job listing on JournalismJobs.com Thursday looking for “field team members” who would work at an unnamed “tech company with user-generated content,” The Post reported.

Michael Yates, the owner of Flyover, wouldn’t confirm to The Post that the listing was for Citizen, saying: “I’d violate my NDA and they’d rightfully fire me.”

The Post said that the listing was removed from the website after it contacted Yates and Citizen about the vacancies, but that a Citizen spokesperson confirmed that Yates had been hired on behalf of the company, and sent The Post a link to a near-identical listing on the same site, which is still live.

“Citizen has teams in place in some of the cities where the app is available to demonstrate how the platform works, and to model responsible broadcasting practices in situations when events are unfolding in real time,” the spokeswoman said.

Field team members would earn $250 a day for 10-hour shifts in Los Angeles, and $200 a day for eight-hour shifts in New York City, per the listings.

The company didn’t immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

The job listings said that the hires, who would be expected to work four or five days a week, would be “dispatched” to cover events including house fires and reports of missing children, and that they should interview police officials and witnesses on-scene wherever possible.

“You will be the app’s official on-the-ground presence, generating live content to give users real-time information on what’s going on in their city as it unfolds,” both job listings said.

The app launched in 2016 as Vigilante, but Apple booted it off its App Store after just two days for encouraging people to put themselves in harm’s way for content. It relaunched in 2017 as Citizen, and has raised $133 million from backers including Peter Thiel, Sequoia Capital, and Greycroft.

The listings added that the hires would be “behind established media lines, behind police tape,” and that they would “never” be asked to go to an “actively dangerous location.”

The app, which says it has 7 million users in more than 30 cities, now has plans to launch a private-security service that would let users deploy security teams to residences and crime scenes, Vice’s Motherboard reported in May.

Read the original article on Business Insider

RESULTS: Eric Adams projected winner of New York City Mayor Democratic primary

From left: Shaun Donovan, Andrew Yang, Ray McGuire, Kathryn Garcia, Eric Adams, and Maya Wiley with New York City's skyline tint blue in the background.
  • Eric Adams is now projected to win the Democratic nomination for New York City Mayor.
  • New York City voters are selecting Democratic and Republican nominees for mayor.
  • New York is using ranked-choice voting for the first time, so the winner may not be known for weeks.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The latest tallies of New York City’s ranked-choice Democratic mayoral primary election show Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams narrowly leading former New York City Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia by just 8,426 votes, 50.5% to 49.5%, with most absentee votes now counted. Given the outstanding vote and Adams’ lead, he is projected to be the winner of the primary.

The latest results include over 122,000 absentee ballots and some provisional ballots cast in-person. Out of the total 125,794 absentee ballots cast in the mayoral primary, 3,669 had problems with the signature on the outer envelope that voters will need to fix in order for their ballots to count, the city’s Board of Elections announced Tuesday.

Voters went to the polls through June 22 to pick Democratic and Republican nominees for mayor in the race to succeed Mayor Bill de Blasio, who is term-limited.

The winner of the crowded Democratic primary field will be the favorite in November’s general election, with Democrats heavily outnumbering registered Republicans across the five boroughs.

The Board of Elections released unofficial, un-ranked election results based on in-person votes only on Election Night, then ran the first ranked-choice tabulations a week later on June 29, also based on only in-person votes.

But it didn’t go off without some drama along the way: officials had to remove, recalculate, and re-release the first set of ranked-choice vote tabulations for the city’s mayoral race after a major mishap ensued when an employee in Queens accidentally included 135,000 test votes in the ranked-choice runoff results released on June 29, an embarrassment for the embattled city Board of Elections.

Several candidates, however, found themselves eliminated from contention just based on the unranked, election night results.

Shortly before 11 p.m. on the night of June 22, former presidential candidate Andrew Yang conceded in a speech in front of supporters.

“I am not going to be the next Mayor of New York City,” Yang said, sitting in fourth place.

Here are the unofficial, ranked tenth-round election results that show how the candidates stand before absentee and provisional ballots were added to the tally:

A voter receives her ballot in New York City's June 22 mayoral election
A voter receives her ballot at Frank McCourt High School, in New York, Tuesday, June 22, 2021.

Why it took weeks to learn results.

While tabulating ranked-choice votes is done via software and is not particularly arduous on its own, it’s taking weeks to know the final results of the mayor’s race because of New York’s procedures for counting absentee ballots.

New York continued to allow voters to vote absentee due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and state law allows a lot of time for ballots to be accepted and mistakes with voters’ ballots to be rectified.

Absentee ballots were accepted through June 29 as long as they were postmarked by Election Day, and voters have until July 9 to fix or “cure” issues, like missing signatures on the outer envelopes of their ballots, under a new state law.

Military and overseas absentee ballots postmarked by Election Day were also accepted through July 5.

Then, ranked-choice voting comes into play. In the mayoral, borough president, and city council races, voters have the option to rank up to five candidates in order of their preference after New York City voters approved a ballot initiative to enact ranked-choice voting in 2019.

Ranked-choice voting ensures that the candidate who eventually wins does so with a majority of the vote.

Since no candidate won over 50% of the vote outright in the Democratic mayoral primary, the votes earned by the candidate who comes in last place are redistributed up to the next-best performing candidate. The process then continues up the chain until one candidate finally earns a majority of the vote.

The Board of Elections is expected to finish up final ranked-choice rounds with complete absentee and provisional results during the week of July 12.

New York City mayoral candidate Eric Adams at a campaign event
Democratic mayoral candidate Eric Adams greets supporters during a campaign event, Thursday, June 17, 2021, in the Harlem neighborhood of New York

How the campaign shaped up during the pandemic.

The primary’s early months were dominated by Zoom forums.

Nonprofit organizations, unions, and other local groups held discussions that were less debates than opportunities for the candidates to repeat their campaign promises and sharpen their messaging.

Another factor making this campaign rather unusual was the general lack of public polling, with several pollsters saying they were uncomfortable simulating ranked-choice voting with any accuracy.

By May, in-person campaign events began to heat up, and eventually the candidates were able to meet in-person for a handful of televised debates.

Yang started the race as the frontrunner, but as more polling became available in the final weeks, he began to slip into second, third, and even fourth place in some surveys.

However, Yang remained competitive throughout, and an Ipsos poll released on the eve of the primary showed him in second place behind Adams.

Adams cleaned up with labor endorsements around the city, while Yang received a first of its kind joint-endorsement from Hasidic and Orthodox Jewish community leaders. The borough president’s momentum was complicated by a scandal involving his primary residence, when a Politico investigation found Adams may have been living in either New Jersey or his office instead of a Bedford-Stuyvesant brownstone that he officially listed.

Garcia began to surge following her New York Times Editorial Board endorsement, and Wiley was able to capitalize on late support from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Outside of the top four, several progressive candidates failed to gain traction, most notably City Comptroller Scott Stringer.

Stringer was accused by two women of sexually assaulting them in the early 2000s. He denied both allegations, but saw a mass defection of endorsements.

The latest twist in the race came in the final weekend, when Yang and Garcia campaigned together to “promote ranked-choice voting,” but not as a co-endorsement. Adams accused them of trying to prevent a person of color from becoming mayor, to which Yang replied that he’s been Asian his whole life.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Bumble is opening an Italian restaurant in NYC this month – see inside what the dating app is billing as a ‘safe space’ for relationships

A rendering of the exterior of Bumble Brew with tables and chairs both outside and inside the yellow storefront
A rendering of Bumble Brew.

  • Dating app Bumble has teamed up with a New York City restaurant to create the Bumble Brew Cafe and Wine Bar.
  • Bumble Brew will serve an “Italian-inspired” breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
  • The restaurant was designed for patrons to connect with “friends, a potential partner, or a new business connection.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Dating app Bumble – the one where women must message first – is teaming up with Pasquale Jones, a New York City restaurant, to create the Bumble Brew Cafe and Wine Bar.

A rendering of the Bumble Brew's bar with coffee, drinks, and seating
A rendering of Bumble Brew’s bar with the Bumble logo.

By day, it’ll be a cafe and breakfast spot. But by night, the space will transform into a wine bar and restaurant with offerings like dry-aged beef tartare, octopus, and cacio e pepe raviolo.

Dry aged beef tartare, crispy garlic, and rice on a plate with other plates of food in the background.
Dry aged beef tartare, crispy garlic, and rice.

The cafe, restaurant, and wine bar combo will open July 24 in the Nolita neighborhood of New York City, right next to Pasqaule Jones, an Italian hotspot overseen by Delicious Hospitality Group.

A rendering of the exterior of Bumble Brew with tables and chairs both outside and inside the yellow storefront
A rendering of Bumble Brew.

“We’ve always designed our restaurants so that people can connect over delicious food and drinks in a fun and energetic environment, so our mission aligned perfectly with Bumble,” Ryan Hardy, Delicious Hospitality Group’s CEO and executive chef, said in the press release.

Chef Hardy in the kitchen with another person.
Chef Hardy.

Bumble Brew was inspired by the company’s Hive pop-ups, which bring the app and its dating, friend-making, and networking options to life. But unlike the pop-ups, this will be Bumble’s first storefront.

A hand holding a pastry with a newspaper, book, and iPhone showing the Bumble app off to the side.
A pastry and the Bumble app.

The 3,760-square-foot establishment will have room for 80 people in its dining room, bar, patio, and private dining section, all of which were designed by New York-based Float Design Studio.

A rendering of the interior Bumble Brew lounge with more tables and chairs and a view of the street outside
A rendering of the Bumble Brew lounge.

The space can even be used to house events.

A person eating a plate of chitarra nero, crab, and Japanese mint with a glass of white wine next to them.
Chitarra nero, crab, and Japanese mint.

The Bumble Brew space is striving for a “fun, upbeat” environment …

A rendering of the exterior of Bumble Brew with tables and chairs both outside and inside the yellow storefront
A rendering of Bumble Brew.

… and most of the music will be from women artists in different genres (it is Bumble, after all).

Various plates of food from an overhead view.
A collection of the food.

And what better way to create a jovial environment than with wine.

A rendering of the Bumble Brew's bar with coffee, drinks, and seating
A rendering of Bumble Brew’s bar.

“We hope that people can gather at Bumble Brew and connect over an espresso or delicious meal, whether it’s with friends, a potential partner, or a new business connection,” Julia Smith, Bumble’s head of brand partnerships, said in the press release.

A person eating a plate of charcoal grilled steak, spring onions, and romesco verde.
Charcoal grilled steak, spring onions, and romesco verde.

Similar to its neighbor, Bumble Brew’s menu – created by Hardy and the Pasquale Jones crew – will be “Italian-inspired,” according to the press release.

A plate of mushrooms, charred green tomatoes, chile, and lime.
Mushrooms, charred green tomatoes, chile, and lime.

This translates to pastas, vegetables, a bar-specific menu, and food to share.

Dry aged beef tartare, crispy garlic, and rice.
Dry aged beef tartare, crispy garlic, and rice.

The breakfast menu includes items like croissants and ricotta with bee pollen, plums, and hazelnuts.

A hand holding a baked good over a plate next to coffee and sugar.
The breakfast pastries.

Meanwhile, lunch (which will be available beginning July 31) has options like beef tartare with black garlic and crispies, brown butter asparagus with black truffle and Parmigiano …

Dry aged beef tartare, crispy garlic, and rice on a plate.
Dry-aged beef tartare, crispy garlic, and rice.

… and smoked eggplant with hot chile, yogurt, and mint.

a bowl with smoked eggplant, hot chile, yogurt, and mint with a slice of toast
Smoked eggplant, hot chile, yogurt, and mint with a slice of toast.

Several of the lunch and dinner items overlap, including the asparagus, beef tartare, and eggplant. Along with this, the dinner menu will also have hits like pastas, steak, and octopus. However, it should be noted that dinner service won’t begin until August 7.

Someone plating casoncelli stuffed with mortadela, parmigiano, and pancetta.
Casoncelli stuffed with mortadella, parmigiano, and pancetta.

All of these plates will cost, on average, $20, Kate Krader reported for Bloomberg.

Various plates of food from an overhead view.
A collection of the food.

Source: Bloomberg

Food pickup will also be available through Caviar, a food ordering and delivery platform.

Someone plating casoncelli stuffed with mortadela, parmigiano, and pancetta.
Casoncelli stuffed with mortadella, parmigiano, and pancetta.

At first, the Bumble Brew concept had planned to serve “date-friendly” meals that wouldn’t have foods “that would be awkward on a first date,” Caroline Ellis Roche, Bumble’s chief of staff, said in 2019.

A plate of cucumbers, dill, and smoked wild trout
Cucumbers, dill, and smoked wild trout.

Source: Bloomberg

But that approach has since shifted. And now, the eatery will be a “safe space for healthy and equitable relationships and connection,” Smith told Bloomberg.

A close up of Chef Hardy in the kitchen.
Chef Hardy.

Source: Bloomberg

Read the original article on Business Insider

New York City’s latest election debacle is the natural result of the BOE’s systematic dysfunction

A voter walks through a New York City polling location
Voters mark their ballots at Frank McCourt High School, in New York, Tuesday, June 22, 2021.

  • NYC’s snafu in reporting ranked-choice results is the latest in a long line of election problems.
  • Critics say the incident wasn’t a one-off, but emblematic of a fundamentally broken system.
  • The embattled Board of Elections has long been a hotbed of nepotism and political cronyism.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The rollout of ranked-choice voting devolved into chaos on Tuesday night in the highly-watched New York City Democratic mayoral primary, when the city’s Board of Elections announced that the results of the first rounds of ranked-choice votes included 135,000 test votes mistakenly left in the election management system.

The error, luckily, occurred during the release of incomplete, unofficial election results based only on in-person votes, not final tabulations that include a full accounting of absentee and provisional ballots. The Board plans to reupload election results and retally ranked-choice rounds.

Some politicians were quick to blame the ranked-choice system. But that explanation falls flat. Over 20 municipalities around the country have been successfully running ranked-choice elections for years with smooth tabulation and no hiccups on this scale. And, for those who have been following New York City elections for years, the failure was none too shocking.

“I, like most New Yorkers, I am pretty much aghast at another pretty big gaffe at the Board of Elections, the kind of gaffe that many of us have been calling out for a very, very long time” New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams said on a Wednesday press call hosted by Common Cause New York. “And the notion that somehow if we didn’t have ranked-choice voting it would go smoother without is not one that I can agree with based on all the other issues we’ve had with the Board of Elections.”

The way the Board of Elections is structured in New York has proven to be non-conducive to competent and transparent elections, advocates argue. The latest stumble in reporting ranked-choice results is just the latest in a series of missteps and failures by the embattled city Board of Elections.

Voters mark their ballots at Frank McCourt High School, in New York, Tuesday, June 22, 2021
The New York City Board of Elections has long been criticized for long lines and other problems

New York City has long been plagued with election problems.

Hours-long lines at the polls have been a fixture of New York City elections for years. In 2016, around 100,000 voters in Brooklyn were wrongly removed from the voter rolls, leading to a major lawsuit. In 2018, the Board blamed issues with ballot scanners that compounded long lines on the rainy weather.

In the 2020 primaries, voters saw absentee ballots rejected at extraordinarily high rates with little recourse, and in the general, a mixup with the Board’s vendor resulted in tens of thousands of residents receiving absentee ballots meant for other voters.

Under the state constitution, boards of elections are required to be exactly bipartisan, with an even number of commissioners from both parties. In New York City, five commissioners from each party are nominated by political parties and approved by the city council, leaving voters with virtually no direct input as to who runs their elections.

While mandated bipartisanship may sound good in theory, the coupling of powerful county political party machines to the city’s Board of Elections has only incentivized leaders to turn it into a receptacle of nepotism and a revolving door of political cronyism, critics say.

“One wildly incompetent error occurred in a Board of Elections that many of us have been saying are rife with problems to begin with,” Williams, the New York City Public Advocate, said on the call Wednesday. “I believe, and we all know, right now, that the Board of Elections is a patronage mill. And it has to be broken up, and we have to change it.”

As The New York Times documented in an October 2020 report, an unusually high number of staffers with scant qualifications are the relatives of local politicians. Employees have also been known to shirk basic responsibilities and duties by watching Netflix and going to the gym on the job or just not coming into work at all.

Just hours before the vote-tabulation error came to light, the BOE’s Republican chairman Fred Umane said that the BOE may not be able to hold its weekly meeting next week – when RCV tabulations are set to continue – because too many staffers will be on vacation, WNYC’s Brigid Bergin reported.

People wait in line at an early voting site in New York, Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020.
People wait in line at an early voting site in New York, Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020.

The ranked-choice counting snafu could spur real reform.

The New York legislature passed reforms in 2019 and 2021 that expand voting options and modernized numerous antiquated aspects of New York’s voting and election systems.

But it remains to be seen if this latest episode will finally push the state legislature to fundamentally reform the structure of the Board of Elections, as State Senator Zellnor Myrie, the chair of the Senate Elections Committee is hoping to accomplish.

“What happened last night has nothing to do with ranked choice voting, but reflects long running problems with how we structure election administration in this state,” Myrie said in a Wednesday statement. “We’ve needed to reform the BOE since well before I was a Senator and I am committed to holding hearings ASAP to hear directly from voters and election officials with a focus on making significant changes at the BOE.”

Completely changing the structure would require an amendment to the state constitution, which would need to be approved by both chambers of the legislature and then put directly to the voters on the ballot.

But lawmakers could still keep the board’s structure while making big overhauls and reforms to professionalize the board and make it more accountable to city leaders, including with a bill proposed by State Sen. Liz Krueger that outgoing Mayor Bill de Blasio put out a fresh call for the legislature to pass on Wednesday.

Read the original article on Business Insider

RESULTS: New York City to re-tally ranked choice rounds after major tabulation errors included dummy votes

From left: Shaun Donovan, Andrew Yang, Ray McGuire, Kathryn Garcia, Eric Adams, and Maya Wiley with New York City's skyline tint blue in the background.
  • New York City voters are selecting Democratic and Republican nominees for mayor.
  • New York is using ranked-choice voting for the first time, so the winner may not be known for weeks.
  • Eric Adams’ initial lead was cut down by Kathryn Garcia and Maya Wiley.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

New York City officials have retracted the most recent vote count and the first set of ranked-choice vote tabulations for the city’s mayoral race after accidentally including 135,000 dummy test votes in the ranked-choice runoff tallies it conducted and released on Tuesday.

The Board of Elections removed the previous results from the first set of ranked-choice runoff rounds from its website and announced in a statement late Tuesday night that it will re-upload the election night results (which include in-person votes and no absentee ballots so far), re-generate the cast vote record, and re-tally ranked-choice rounds.

Unofficial and incomplete election night results only had Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams holding a commanding lead, followed by former New York City Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia, and civil rights attorney Maya Wiley.

The Board of Elections ran the first round of ranked-choice voting based on the results of in-person votes only. These results will remain incomplete and unofficial, however, since the over 124,000 absentee ballots cast in the Democratic primary won’t yet counted and factored into the tally until later on.

Voters went to the polls through June 22 to pick Democratic and Republican nominees for mayor in the race to succeed Mayor Bill de Blasio, who is term-limited.

The winner of the crowded Democratic primary field will be the favorite in November’s general election, with Democrats heavily outnumbering registered Republicans across the five boroughs.

Ranked-choice voting is being used for the first time in the city’s history for these races, complicating predictions and the logistics of counting the votes.

Shortly before 11 p.m. on the night of June 22, former presidential candidate Andrew Yang conceded in a speech in front of supporters.

“I am not going to be the next Mayor of New York City,” Yang said, sitting in fourth place.

Here are the unofficial, ranked tenth-round election results that show how the candidates stand before absentee and provisional ballots are added to the tally:

A voter receives her ballot in New York City's June 22 mayoral election
A voter receives her ballot at Frank McCourt High School, in New York, Tuesday, June 22, 2021.

Why we may not know the winner for two more weeks.

While tabulating ranked-choice votes is done via software and is not particularly arduous on its own, it’s taking weeks to know the final results of the mayor’s race because of New York’s procedures for counting absentee ballots.

New York is continuing to allow voters to vote absentee due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and state law allows a lot of time for ballots to be accepted and mistakes with voters’ ballots to be rectified.

Absentee ballots are accepted through June 29 as long as they’re postmarked by Election Day, and voters have another week on top of that to fix or “cure” issues, like missing signatures on the outer envelopes of their ballots, under a new state law. Military and overseas absentee ballots postmarked by Election Day are also accepted through July 5.

Then, ranked-choice voting comes into play. In the mayoral, borough president, and city council races, voters have the option to rank up to five candidates in order of their preference after New York City voters approved a ballot initiative to enact ranked-choice voting in 2019.

Ranked-choice voting ensures that the candidate who eventually wins does so with a majority of the vote.

Since no candidate won over 50% of the vote outright in the Democratic mayoral primary, the votes earned by the candidate who comes in last place are redistributed up to the next-best performing candidate. The process then continues up the chain until one candidate finally earns a majority of the vote.

Here’s a likely timeline for the results, according to THE CITY and The New York Times:

  • June 22: Unofficial, first-round election night results before ranked-choice rounds are released. These results will only include in-person votes, not absentee or provisional ballots.
  • June 29: Board of Elections runs the first round of ranked-choice voting, also without full absentee and provisional results. These results will remain unofficial.
  • July 6: Ranked-choice tallies are updated with absentee and provisional ballots as they’re counted and accepted.
  • July 12: The Board of Elections is expected to finish up final ranked-choice rounds with complete absentee and provisional results.

New York City mayoral candidate Eric Adams at a campaign event
Democratic mayoral candidate Eric Adams greets supporters during a campaign event, Thursday, June 17, 2021, in the Harlem neighborhood of New York

How the campaign shaped up during the pandemic.

The primary’s early months were dominated by Zoom forums.

Nonprofit organizations, unions, and other local groups held discussions that were less debates than opportunities for the candidates to repeat their campaign promises and sharpen their messaging.

Another factor making this campaign rather unusual was the general lack of public polling, with several pollsters saying they were uncomfortable simulating ranked-choice voting with any accuracy.

By May, in-person campaign events began to heat up, and eventually the candidates were able to meet in-person for a handful of televised debates.

Yang started the race as the frontrunner, but as more polling became available in the final weeks, he began to slip into second, third, and even fourth place in some surveys.

However, Yang remained competitive throughout, and an Ipsos poll released on the eve of the primary showed him in second place behind Adams.

Adams cleaned up with labor endorsements around the city, while Yang received a first of its kind joint-endorsement from Hasidic and Orthodox Jewish community leaders. The borough president’s momentum was complicated by a scandal involving his primary residence, when a Politico investigation found Adams may have been living in either New Jersey or his office instead of a Bedford-Stuyvesant brownstone that he officially listed.

Garcia began to surge following her New York Times Editorial Board endorsement, and Wiley was able to capitalize on late support from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Outside of the top four, several progressive candidates failed to gain traction, most notably City Comptroller Scott Stringer.

Stringer was accused by two women of sexually assaulting them in the early 2000s. He denied both allegations, but saw a mass defection of endorsements.

The latest twist in the race came in the final weekend, when Yang and Garcia campaigned together to “promote ranked-choice voting,” but not as a co-endorsement. Adams accused them of trying to prevent a person of color from becoming mayor, to which Yang replied that he’s been Asian his whole life.

Read the original article on Business Insider

New York City will re-do its first rounds of ranked-choice voting after accidentally including 135,000 test votes in official results

A voter receives her ballot in New York City's June 22 mayoral election
A voter receives her ballot at Frank McCourt High School, in New York, Tuesday, June 22, 2021.

  • New York City officials accidentally included 135,000 test votes in their ranked-choice vote tallies.
  • The Board of Elections announced it will re-upload, re-tally, and re-tabulate votes on Wednesday.
  • New York City is using ranked-choice voting for the first time for mayoral and other races.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

New York City officials are re-doing the first rounds of ranked-choice vote tabulations for the city’s mayoral, borough-wide, and council elections after mistakenly including 135,000 test votes in their election data reporting system used to relay results to the public.

The city’s Board of Elections announced in a Tuesday night statement that “ballot images used for testing were not cleared from the Election Management System” used for reporting and tallying the results of ranked-choice votes.

The Board plans to remove the dummy test votes from the cast vote record, re-upload election night results, re-generate the cast vote record, and then re-run ranked-choice rounds.

Unofficial, unranked election night results from only early and Election Day in-person votes showed Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams in the lead, followed by New York City Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia and civil rights attorney Maya Wiley. Over 120,000 absentee ballots cast in the Democratic primary have yet to be counted and tabulated.

Since no candidate won over 50% of the vote outright in the Democratic mayoral primary, the votes earned by the candidate who comes in last place are redistributed up to the next-best performing candidate. The process then continues up the chain until one candidate finally earns a majority of the vote.

On Tuesday afternoon, the Board of Elections ran the first 10 rounds of ranked-choice runoffs based on incomplete in-person election results with no absentees. The first set of rounds placed Adams and Garcia neck-and-neck, with Adams holding 51.1% of the vote compared to 48.9% for Garcia.

But after keen-eyed observers and the campaigns of Adams and Aaron Foldenauer noted potential inconsistencies in the reported data, the Board of Elections tweeted that it was “aware of a discrepancy in the unofficial RCV round by round elimination report” and was “working with our RCV technical staff to identify where the discrepancy occurred.”

The Board then took all existing election results off their site, posting a message that “unofficial rank choice results” would start on June 30.

The latest debacle is a major stumble in the city’s rollout of ranked-choice voting, which was approved by voters in a 2019 ballot initiative and is being used for the first time in 2021 mayoral, borough president, comptroller, and city council races.

This also marks the latest inflection point in decades of incompetence and dysfunction for the troubled New York City Board of Elections, which has struggled with administering elections and maintaining voter rolls in the recent past.

It has also long been criticized for being a forum for rampant nepotism and political patronage.

Read the original article on Business Insider

RESULTS: Eric Adams holds a commanding lead as officials begin ranked-choice runoffs in New York City

From left: Shaun Donovan, Andrew Yang, Ray McGuire, Kathryn Garcia, Eric Adams, and Maya Wiley with New York City's skyline tint blue in the background.
  • New York City voters are selecting Democratic and Republican nominees for mayor.
  • New York is using ranked-choice voting for the first time, so the winner may not be known for weeks.
  • Eric Adams holds a strong lead as absentee and ranked-choice votes remain outstanding.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

New York City officials are beginning the process of ranking the still-unofficial results in New York City’s first-ever ranked-choice mayoral election.

On June 29, the Board of Elections will run the first round of ranked-choice voting based on the results of in-person votes only. These results will remain incomplete and unofficial, however, since the over 124,000 absentee ballots cast in the Democratic primary won’t yet counted and factored into the tally until next week.

Voters went to the polls through June 22 to pick Democratic and Republican nominees for mayor in the race to succeed Mayor Bill de Blasio, who is term-limited.

The winner of the crowded Democratic primary field will be the favorite in November’s general election, with Democrats heavily outnumbering registered Republicans across the five boroughs.

Ranked-choice voting is being used for the first time in the city’s history for these races, complicating predictions and the logistics of counting the votes.

Unofficial and incomplete election night results only had Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams holding a commanding lead, followed by former New York City Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia, and civil rights attorney Maya Wiley.

Shortly before 11 p.m., former presidential candidate Andrew Yang conceded in a speech in front of supporters.

“I am not going to be the next Mayor of New York City,” Yang said, sitting in fourth place.

Here are the unofficial, un-ranked first-round election results that show how the candidates stood before any ranked-choice rounds are run and before absentee and provisional ballots are added to the tally:

A voter receives her ballot in New York City's June 22 mayoral election
A voter receives her ballot at Frank McCourt High School, in New York, Tuesday, June 22, 2021.

Why we may not know the winner for two more weeks.

While tabulating ranked-choice votes is done via software and is not particularly arduous on its own, it’s taking weeks to know the final results of the mayor’s race because of New York’s procedures for counting absentee ballots.

New York is continuing to allow voters to vote absentee due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and state law allows a lot of time for ballots to be accepted and mistakes with voters’ ballots to be rectified.

Absentee ballots are accepted through June 29 as long as they’re postmarked by Election Day, and voters have another week on top of that to fix or “cure” issues, like missing signatures on the outer envelopes of their ballots, under a new state law. Military and overseas absentee ballots postmarked by Election Day are also accepted through July 5.

Then, ranked-choice voting comes into play. In the mayoral, borough president, and city council races, voters have the option to rank up to five candidates in order of their preference after New York City voters approved a ballot initiative to enact ranked-choice voting in 2019.

Ranked-choice voting ensures that the candidate who eventually wins does so with a majority of the vote.

Since no candidate won over 50% of the vote outright in the Democratic mayoral primary, the votes earned by the candidate who comes in last place are redistributed up to the next-best performing candidate. The process then continues up the chain until one candidate finally earns a majority of the vote.

Here’s a likely timeline for the results, according to THE CITY and The New York Times:

  • June 22: Unofficial, first-round election night results before ranked-choice rounds are released. These results will only include in-person votes, not absentee or provisional ballots.
  • June 29: Board of Elections runs the first round of ranked-choice voting, also without full absentee and provisional results. These results will remain unofficial.
  • July 6: Ranked-choice tallies are updated with absentee and provisional ballots as they’re counted and accepted.
  • July 12: The Board of Elections is expected to finish up final ranked-choice rounds with complete absentee and provisional results.

New York City mayoral candidate Eric Adams at a campaign event
Democratic mayoral candidate Eric Adams greets supporters during a campaign event, Thursday, June 17, 2021, in the Harlem neighborhood of New York

How the campaign shaped up during the pandemic.

The primary’s early months were dominated by Zoom forums.

Nonprofit organizations, unions, and other local groups held discussions that were less debates than opportunities for the candidates to repeat their campaign promises and sharpen their messaging.

Another factor making this campaign rather unusual was the general lack of public polling, with several pollsters saying they were uncomfortable simulating ranked-choice voting with any accuracy.

By May, in-person campaign events began to heat up, and eventually the candidates were able to meet in-person for a handful of televised debates.

Yang started the race as the frontrunner, but as more polling became available in the final weeks, he began to slip into second, third, and even fourth place in some surveys.

However, Yang remained competitive throughout, and an Ipsos poll released on the eve of the primary showed him in second place behind Adams.

Adams cleaned up with labor endorsements around the city, while Yang received a first of its kind joint-endorsement from Hasidic and Orthodox Jewish community leaders. The borough president’s momentum was complicated by a scandal involving his primary residence, when a Politico investigation found Adams may have been living in either New Jersey or his office instead of a Bedford-Stuyvesant brownstone that he officially listed.

Garcia began to surge following her New York Times Editorial Board endorsement, and Wiley was able to capitalize on late support from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Outside of the top four, several progressive candidates failed to gain traction, most notably City Comptroller Scott Stringer.

Stringer was accused by two women of sexually assaulting them in the early 2000s. He denied both allegations, but saw a mass defection of endorsements.

The latest twist in the race came in the final weekend, when Yang and Garcia campaigned together to “promote ranked-choice voting,” but not as a co-endorsement. Adams accused them of trying to prevent a person of color from becoming mayor, to which Yang replied that he’s been Asian his whole life.

Read the original article on Business Insider