NYC mayoral primary race thrown into chaos as BOE appears to botch vote count

The Democratic primary race for mayor was thrown into chaos Tuesday when the city Board of Elections appeared to have botched the count amid the city’s first ranked-choice election.

Preliminary results released earlier in the day showed a total of 941,832 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.

The glaring discrepancy 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.

“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.”

State Board of Elections co-chairman Doug Kellner called the situation “very disappointing” and faulted the city BOE’s “lack of transparency with respect to the counting of the ranked-choice cast voting records.”

“Because they haven’t released them, it’s very difficult to find the source of any error,” said Kellner, a Democrat.

“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.”

Veteran city election lawyer Jerry Goldfeder, who doesn’t represent any of the candidates, likewise said, “It’s not clear if they’re computer glitches or human error.”

Kathryn Garcia swings through the Union Square Green Market earlier in June.
Kathryn Garcia has moved into second place with 48.9 percent of the votes.
Matthew McDermott

“It’s just hard to know what’s going to happen.” he said.

Goldfeder said a manual recount of every ballot cast was “possible, if the vote totals are close.”

The unofficial results from the first round of voting last week put Adams ahead of Maya Wiley, a former counsel to outgoing Mayor Bill de Blasio, by 253,234 votes to 177,722, or 31.66 percent to 22.22 percent.

But Tuesday’s unofficial results, after a total of 11 rounds of ranked-choice counting, had Adams narrowly leading former city sanitation commissioner Kathryn Garcia by 368,898 votes to 352,990 or 51.1 percent to 48.9 percent, with Wiley and 10 other candidates eliminated.

A total of 219,944 ballots “with no choices left” were listed as “inactive.”

But the city still has yet to count more than 124,000 absentee ballots sent by mail.

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams narrowly edged former Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia to hang onto first place in the Democratic primary under the preliminary results from the Big Apple's new instant runoff system.
Eric Adams had slightly over 51 percent of the vote.

The deadline for receiving those ballots was Tuesday. And once those are counted the entire ranked choice process is run again from scratch.

Adams netted an additional 17,000 first-choice votes compared to the figures reported primary night — Garcia picked up 12,000 votes while Maya Wiley netted 10,000.

An analysis of the results shows that Garcia closed the gap by picking up more than 185,000 votes through the ranked-choice system, while Adams gained 98,000.

For her part, Garcia celebrated the dramatic shift in the race, but urged her supporters and the city to wait for the BOE to count the still-outstanding absentee ballots and finalize the election results.

“Once all the votes are counted, I know everyone will support the Democratic nominee and that’s exactly what I intend to do. We look forward to the final results,” she said in a statement. “Democracy is worth waiting for.”

Wiley, a civil rights attorney and former top aide to Mayor Bill de Blasio, was narrowly edged out by Garcia in the 10th round of the ranked-choice voting — and her votes overwhelmingly went to Garcia, figures show.

The gap between the two leading women candidates was just 3,806 votes.

Wiley, too, urged voters to remain patient.

Mayoral candidate Eric Adams after casting his vote in the mayoral primary election at PS 81.
Mayoral candidate Eric Adams after casting his vote in the mayoral primary election at PS 81.James Keivom

“I said on election night, we must allow the democratic process to continue and count every vote so that New Yorkers have faith in our democracy and government. And we must all support its results,” she said in a statement. 

One-time leading contender Andrew Yang — the 2023 presidential hopeful who vaulted to the top of the field on the strength of his name recognition — was eliminated in the 9th round of the run-off, after getting 14.9 percent of the vote.

The BOE’s tallies showed that nearly 37,000 of Yang’s voters listed Garcia as their next candidate pick while 31,000 opted for Adams, in a reversal of many pre-primary polls.

A top Yang advisor chalked that reversal up to the decision to campaign with Garcia in the closing days of the race.

Polling before the race showed that Wiley and Garcia supporters were likely to rank each other as their second choices.

“Every poll that was conducted throughout the mayor’s race showed Eric Adams winning most of Yang’s voters,” said Chris Coffey, a top strategist for Yang’s run. “The Garcia-Yang alliance seems to have stopped that and shows that ranked-choice voting alliances can really pay off, as this seems to have done for Kathryn.”

There remains one big wild-card in the race — the still-to-counted 124,000 absentee ballots that have been mailed back to BOE offices so far.

Under state law, elections officials could not begin opening the envelopes until Monday — and the Board of Elections did not include them in this calculation.

The BOE says plans to have most of those votes counted by July 6 and will include them when they rerun the election results on that date.

Little will be known about how the absentee ballots fall until then — but an analysis by The Post, published Tuesday, revealed that the bulk of those votes came from parts of the city friendly to both Adams and Garcia.

Of the 124,000 ballots mailed back as of Sunday, 55,000 are from Assembly districts that backed Adams during the first round, while 39,000 are from districts that went for Garcia.

Metro | New York Post

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