NYC mayoral race in chaos after city’s elections board finds ‘discrepancy’ in ranked-choice votes tally

The Democratic primary race for mayor was thrown into chaos Tuesday as the city Board of Elections (BOE) appeared to have botched the count amid the city’s first ranked-choice election — adding 135,000 pre-election “test” ballots that hadn’t been cleared from a computer, according to the New York Post.

According to a BOE statement Tuesday night, “it has determined that ballot images used for testing were not cleared from the Election Management System.

“The Board apologizes for the error and has taken immediate measures to ensure the most accurate up to date results are reported.”

Here’s BOE’s full statement:

As described the the New York Times Under ranked-choice voting, voters can list up to five candidates on their ballots in preferential order. If no candidate receives more than 50 percent of first-choice votes in the first round, the winner is decided by a process of elimination: As the lower-polling candidates are eliminated, their votes are reallocated to whichever candidate those voters ranked next, and the process continues until there is a winner.

The Board of Elections released preliminary, unofficial ranked-choice tabulations on Tuesday afternoon, showing that Mr. Adams — who had held a significant advantage on primary night — was narrowly ahead of Kathryn Garcia in the ballots cast in person during early voting or on Primary Day. Maya D. Wiley, who came in second place in the initial vote count, was close behind in third place. The board then took down the results and disclosed the discrepancy.

Preliminary results released earlier in the day showed a total of 941,832 ballots cast for mayor, an increase of more than 140,000 from the 799,827 that were counted on June 22, the day of the primary, CBSN New York Reports.

The glaring discrepancy at first went unnoticed until it was flagged by front-runner Eric Adams.

“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,” an Adams spokesman said.

The error drew strong criticism from the current Mayor NYC, Bill de Blasio who just Tuesday praised the way the Board handled this election.

“Yet again, the fundamental structural flaws of the Board of Elections are on display,” Mayor de Blasio said. “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 this election deserve nothing less.”

The revelation added to the disdain surrounding the city’s first mayoral election to use this system of ranked-choice voting adding uncertainty to an already highly contentious race’s outcome. Many are acknowledging the potential for distrust of ranked-choice voting and of the electoral system more broadly.

In the Republican mayoral primary, Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa cruised to a decisive victory over Fernando Mateo, with over 70 percent of the vote.

This situation in context comes on the heels of the 2020 presidential contest in which the BOE disqualified 80,000 ballots because officials were not prepared to handle the deluge of mail-in votes cast during the pandemic, according to CBS New York.

As well, voters in the 2018 midterm elections had to wait hours to cast ballots because high humidity jammed the scanners.

It is now reported that the NYC’s BOE is expected to do another round of analysis next week which will include the absentee ballots.

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