One week after Election Day, the Board of Elections’ latest ranked choice voting (RCV) elimination round report showed Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and former Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn A. Garcia leading in the ongoing mayoral race.
On Tuesday, June 29 at 6:20 p.m., the BOE Tweeted that there were discrepancies in the initial report, then at about 10:30 p.m, they put out a complete statement apologizing.
The initial results were rescinded because of the discrepancy in the unofficial ranked choice voting round-by-round elimination report.
“The Board apologizes for the error and has taken immediate measures to ensure the most accurate up-to-date results are reported,” said the BOE.
The BOE said that they conducted “mandatory pre-qualification testing” and then forgot to clear the ballot images used in the Election Management System (EMS) equipment. When the reports were released both the test and election results were included, skewing the numbers by approximately 135,000 additional votes.
The botched results had Adams as a frontrunner with 51.1% of the votes while Garcia had jumped to the number two spot with 48.9% of the votes. Activist Maya Wiley was eliminated.
“This error by the Board of Elections is not just failure to count votes properly today, it is the result of generations of failures that have gone unaddressed,” said Wiley. “Sadly it is impossible to be surprised. Last summer BOE mishandled tens of thousands of mail in ballots during the June 2020 primary. It has also been prone to complaints of patronage. Today, we have once again seen the mismanagement that has resulted in a lack of confidence in results, not because there is a flaw in our election laws, but because those who implement it have failed too many times.
“The BOE must now count the remainder of the votes transparently and ensure the integrity of the process moving forward. New Yorkers deserve it.”
The BOE has said they are recounting and cross-referencing for verification before they put out new results that are correct.
Jerry H. Goldfeder, a long-time election lawyer for over three decades, said it’s a terrible idea to have the results posted from the RCV process without the absentee ballots tallied and included.
“It’s incomplete and inaccurate and therefore misleading and confusing to the public,” said Goldfeder.
He said he hopes people trust the final results when they do come out.
“Yet again, the fundamental structural flaws of the Board of Elections are on display,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio in a statement about the BOE’s failures.
“There must be an immediate, complete recanvass of the BOE’s vote count and a clear explanation of what went wrong. The record number of voters who turned out for this election deserve nothing less. Going forward, there must be a complete structural rebuild of the board. I once offered the BOE over $20 million to reform themselves. They refused, leaving legislative action as the next available recourse. After waiting hours in line to vote last fall, I presented a plan to remake the Board of Elections,” continued de Blasio.
De Blasio suggested that the State Legislature pass a law to immediately professionalize the BOE and make them directly accountable to New York City’s elected officials.
He also said that they amend the State Constitution to allow for a new, professional board that is removed from party affiliation. “It’s a necessary, fundamental change,” said de Blasio.
Meanwhile, at in-person canvassing sites throughout the boroughs volunteers are taking the time to “cure” or verify absentee, affidavit, and military ballots.
One site located at 5112 Second Avenue in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn was noticeably emptier on Tuesday in terms of poll watchers and lacking the intensity of last year’s presidential and congressional elections.
The giant storage facility houses thousands of election scanners on each floor with a large area marked off by metal fencing for its Democratic and Republican volunteers to hand count the absentee and affidavit paper ballots. There are four supervisors overseeing 12 counting tables with one Democrat and one Republican at each table.
Small on-demand printers are used to recreate any military and federal ballots since they are the only ones allowed to come in through email first, said the BOE yesterday.
City council candidates, such as Steven Saperstein for District 48, Josue Pierre for District 40, and Rick Echevarria for District 37, could be seen leisurely watching the counters on the opposite side of the fences.
Final results will not be known until all absentee and military ballots are recounted and preliminary RCV elimination rounds certified.
Projections put that date in July especially with the current setbacks.
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