NYC Election Mess: Board Wrongly Counted 135,000 Test Ballots in Mayor’s Race

·2 min read

The New York City Board of Elections called for “patience” from candidates and the public after discovering a “discrepancy” in the latest vote tally of the Democratic mayoral primary on Tuesday — before abruptly removing the data from its site.

“We are aware there is a discrepancy in the unofficial [ranked choice voting] round by round elimination report,” the BOE said in a statement on Twitter. “We are working with our RCV technical staff to identify where the discrepancy occurred. We ask the public, elected officials and candidates to have patience.”

In a subsequent statement posted online — with the data removed, and confusion and frustration surrounding the tally mounting — the board explained that it had failed to remove sample ballot images that were used to test its ranked-choice voting system, so when the board ran its tally, it included “both test and election night results, producing approximately 135,000 additional records,” the statement said.

The board then announced that the updated tally, with test ballots removed, would be available “starting on June 30.”

Earlier, candidate Eric Adams had released a statement questioning the vote total released by the BOE.

“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,” Adams said in a statement. “We have asked the Board of Elections to explain such a massive increase and other irregularities before we comment on the Rank Choice Voting projection.”

After polls closed in the primary last week, Adams held close to 32 percent of the ballots cast on election day, while Bill de Blasio’s former counsel Maya Wiley held over 22 percent. However, in the retracted update released on Tuesday, Adams held 51.1 percent of the vote while former sanitation commissioner Kathryn Garcia held 48.9 percent.

The Tuesday update did not include the approximately 125,000 absentee ballots, which will be tallied next week and could alter the results.

Wiley released a statement Wednesday in response to the retraction, which she called “the result of generations of failures that have gone unaddressed.”

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The tallying of results was complicated by delays in the counting of absentee ballots, as well as the adoption of ranked-choice voting for the primary. On RCV ballots, voters are asked to rank their preferred candidates, and if the top candidate does not win a majority, the last-ranked candidate’s votes are distributed according to voters’ second choice. The ballots are redistributed until a candidate receives over 50 percent of the vote.

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