After counting debacle, Eric Adams holds small lead in race for mayor over Kathryn Garcia

New York Elections

NEW YORK— Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams is ahead in the Democratic primary for mayor after the NYC Board of Elections revised its calculation of who would win with only in-person votes under the new ranked choice voting system.

The new numbers came out Wednesday after a dramatic 24-hours when the BOE released and then retracted a calculation it did Tuesday.  The historically troubled election agency said it accidentally included 135,000 “test” ballots in the first inaccurate count.

“Yesterday’s ranked choice voting reporting error was unacceptable and we apologize to the voters and to the campaigns for the confusion,” BOE officials said.

Adams was ahead by around 9% in preliminary 1st choice results release the evening of the primary.

The new ranked choice count includes about 800,000 in-person ballots cast by Democratic primary voters, including 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th choices.  It excludes about 125,000 Democratic absentee ballots that are still being processed by the BOE.

The second to last round of counting showed Adams with 40.9%, former counsel to Mayor Bill de Blasio Maya Wiley with 29.5% and former Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia with 29.6%.  In the final ranked choice count, Adams had 51.1% and Garcia had 48.9%

This much closer result gives some hope to Garcia and Wiley.  Both are counting on absentee ballots to propel them to victory. However, the ordeal has once again shaken confidence in NYC’s elections– specifically those in charge.  Garcia is among the candidates for mayor calling for more vote counting transparency and reform after Tuesday’s debacle. Adams filed a lawsuit to have a judge oversee and review ballots, if necessary, and encouraged other campaigns to join him.

Advocates for ranked choice voting are now scrambling to emphasize Tuesday’s issue had nothing to do with the new voting system.  Public Advocate Jumaane Williams bashed the BOE as a “patronage mill.”  In New York, the Election Board is governed by commissioners hand picked by party bosses.

State Senate leaders pledged hearings and change, but those promises have been made before with nothing done.

Whatever happens with the Board, this latest count shows the race for mayor will likely come down to absentee ballots.

Monday began the process of scanning absentees into the BOE computer system.  First, each one was opened under the careful observation of a Republican and Democrat, sometimes Campaign observers keeping unofficial tallies.

A second ranked choice voting count including most of the absentee ballots will be released Tuesday, July 6.  This second count will likely determine enough information to know the winner in most races, including the race for mayor.   

Board of Elections officials have promised final certified results during the week of July 12. It is after this date that absentee ballots eligible to be “cured” due to issues such as a missing signature are due.  Only the closet races should be undecided by the week of the 12th, including the Democratic race for Queens borough president, the Republican race for Staten Island borough president and a with few competitive City Council races.

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