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Chaos and confusion in NYC Democratic mayoral primary as BOE bungles vote count

"The vote total just released by the Board of Elections is 100,000-plus more than the total announced on election night, raising serious questions."

Ari Hoffman Seattle WA

The New York City Board of Elections (BOE) appears to have bungled the ballot count of the Democratic primary race for mayor during the city’s first ranked-choice election. This is yet another in a long series of missteps over the past few election cycles by the agency.

Preliminary results released Tuesday showed 941,832 total votes cast in the race, an increase of over 140,000 from the 799,827 that were counted the day of the primary on June 22. The discrepancy was called out by current front-runner Eric Adams, who led the race the night of the primary by 10 points.

A spokesperson for the Adams campaign said, "The vote total just released by the Board of Elections is 100,000-plus more than the total announced on election night, raising serious questions. We have asked the Board of Elections to explain such a massive increase and other irregularities before we comment on the Ranked Choice Voting projection."

The BOE issued a statement asking for "the public, elected officials and candidates to have patience," but did not offer any explanation for the foul-up. "We are aware there is a discrepancy in the unofficial RCV round by round elimination report. We are working with our RCV technical staff to identify where the discrepancy occurred."

The agency later reportedly deleted all results from its website, and replaced them with a message stating, "Unofficial Rank Choice Results Starting on June 30."

State Board of Elections co-chairman Doug Kellner, a Democrat, blamed the BOE’s "lack of transparency with respect to the counting of the ranked-choice cast voting records." He added, "Because they haven’t released them, it’s very difficult to find the source of any error. It’s possible that they were missing reports from the original number on election night. Another possibility is that they uploaded the same numbers twice."

According to Tuesday’s unofficial results, after a total of 11 rounds of ranked-choice counting, Adams' lead had shrunk from 10 points to only 2 points ahead of former city sanitation commissioner Kathryn Garcia, 368,898 votes to 352,990. 124,000 absentee ballots sent by mail remain to be counted. Under state law, elections officials cannot open those envelopes until Monday

Before the glaring errors were flagged, Garcia said in a statement, "We look forward to the final results. Once all the votes are counted, I know everyone will support the Democratic nominee and that’s exactly what I intend to do. Democracy is worth waiting for."

The BOE expects to have most of the absentee votes counted by July 6. This is not the first time the BOE has been plagued with problems. Before the 2016 presidential primary the BOE admitted to violating election laws by purging 200,000 voters from its rolls. During the November 2018 midterm elections, voters were forced to wait hours before casting their votes because high humidity jammed new ballot scanners. In the 2020 presidential primaries, the BOW disqualified 80,000 ballots simply because election officials weren’t prepared to handle the massive amounts of mail-in votes cast.

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