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NYC Primary: New Yorkers Head To Polls To Pick Next Mayor, Candidates Make Last-Minute Campaign Push

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- It's a primary day like no other in New York City.

Voters are using a new ranked choice voting system.

The candidates for mayor criss-crossed the city with jam-packed schedules, intent on making sure they are included in the rankings.

NYC PRIMARY: Check The First Round Of Results In NYC's Ranked Choice Democratic Primary

The latest IPSOS mayoral poll has Adams leading with 28%, Yang at 20%, Garcia at 15%, Wiley at 13%, Stringer at 8% and undecided at 6%.

Mayor Bill de Blasio encouraged everyone to vote but would not say who he was ranking No. 1.

"Everyone, you've got to get in the game," he said.

There are primaries in several key races, including Manhattan District Attorney.

Watch: How Does Ranked Choice Voting Work?

As CBS2's Marcia Kramer reports, to say this has been an unusual election season is an understatement.

Because of the pandemic, the campaign started on Zoom and ended in acrimony as the various candidates strategized about how best to manipulate the system.

It resulted in an unusual alliance, and an even more unusual election day phone call, captured exclusively by CBS2 cameras.

It was an unusual call in the middle of the city's most unusual primary day. Democratic mayoral frontrunner Eric Adams took time out from a frenetic election day campaign schedule to call Republican candidate Fernando Mateo as he trolled for votes in Astoria.

It clearly wasn't a butt dial, because the pair chatted for several minutes about the possibility of debating each other if Mateo beats his Republican opponent Curtis Sliwa.

"I wish you luck on your side. I know you're more complicated because of this ranked voting nonsense that's going on. I don't know why you guys allowed that," Mateo said.

Web Extra: Primary Election Day Guide For Voters In New York

Actually, the Democrats didn't "allow it" - the voters did, in a referendum 3-1, and the only reason it's not in effect in the Republican mayoral primary is because there are only two candidates, so one will definitely get over 50%.

But since CBS2's cameras caught only one side of the conversation, we don't know if Adams agreed that ranked choice voting is "nonsense." What we do know is that he's not happy about the fact that two of his opponents, Andrew Yang and Kathryn Garcia, formed an alliance and campaigned together.

Adams had charged it was an attempt at voter suppression, but Tuesday he got testy when he was asked about it, and other issues.

Web Extra: Leading Contenders Debate, Conversations With Candidates & More

"Next question. Next question. Next question. Is there another question?" Adams said.

"New Yorkers want leaders who will work with other people and bring people together right now. Campaigning with Kathryn Garcia over the last number of days has been a joy," Yang said.

"Other people can go negative. They've been politicians a long time. What I've definitely learned is they like to get into the mud a little bit. That's not who I am. I haven't been a politician," Garcia said.

"We're out here. Voters are excited. They're going to the polls. They're telling us they're going to vote. Many are saying they're going to vote for me," Maya Wiley said.

Scott Stringer campaigned with his wife.

Watch: Democratic Political Consultant Javier Lacayo Offers Insight On NYC Primary

And then there was a most unusual campaign promise from Sliwa.

"Ours is about saving the dogs and cats. They're not going to be euthanized in the city shelters anymore. No kill shelters," Sliwa said.

Another unusual aspect? We won't know the winner of the Democratic primary until the week of July 12.

It will take that long to tabulate the absentee ballots and sort through 12 rounds of ranked choice voting.

Ranked choice voting has been used for years in San Francisco and Minneapolis and across the state of Maine.

"If rank choice voting can make it in New York City ... I think it will make it anywhere," said Rob Richie, CEO of FairVote.

FairVote is a nonpartisan group that pushes for election reforms like ranked choice voting.

"Right now, the current system really isn't a level playing field, so conventional wisdom kind of runs the day, right? And so rank choice voting allows voters to sort out the candidates and give them a fair shot, and you can vote for your favorite without worrying whether that candidate has-- passes the viability test," he said.

Watch: Ranked Choice Voting Put To The Test In NYC Primary Election

Some voters say the new system compelled them to pay closer attention.

"I didn't want to just choose anyone to fill those spaces, but I really did the research and wanted to make sure I was making an educated decision," one voter said.

Voters were split, some saying they liked it and others say "fuggedaboutit."

"For me, it was a piece of cake," one voter said.

"I don't know. I think it's confusing," another voter said.

If ranked choice voting doesn't work out, there's always a kill switch being readied. Queens Councilman Daneek Miller has introduced a bill to ask voters in November if they want to repeal it. A spokesperson says the councilman is waiting to see how the election goes before deciding to get the city council to vote on the bill.

The general election is set for November.

Stick with CBS2, CBSN New York and for complete primary coverage.

CBS2's John Dias contributed to this report.

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