New York mayor’s race in chaos after elections board publishes incorrect tally
New York City’s mayoral election has been thrown into chaos after the board of elections mistakenly included 135,000 “test ballots” in its vote tally.
The board of elections had published updated vote totals for the Democratic primary earlier on Tuesday, which showed Kathryn Garcia, New York’s former sanitation commissioner, narrowing the gap on Eric Adams, the Brooklyn borough president, to less than two points.
Hours later, however, the board of elections said it had become aware of a “discrepancy” in its report. The elections board said its calculations had included “both test and election night results, producing approximately 135,000 additional records”.
The error is likely to sow unfortunate confusion around the system of ranked choice voting, which was used for the first time in a New York City mayoral election this year.
Ranked choice voting allowed voters to rank up to five candidates for mayor, and Tuesday night’s vote tally was supposed to give New Yorkers an early glimpse at how the race was shaping up after rankings from early and in-person votes had been calculated.
Instead, the city has provided fuel to election conspiracy theorists nationwide, with millions still convinced the presidential election was fraudulent. There is no evidence of mass fraud in either the New York City mayoral election or the presidential election.
“Board staff has removed all test ballot images from the system and will upload election night results, cross-referencing against election night reporting software for verification,” the elections board said on Twitter at 10.34pm on Tuesday night.
“The cast vote record will be re-generated and the RCV rounds will be re-tabulated.”
Garcia had been the main beneficiary, with the erroneous results showing her on 48.9% after ranked choice votes were counted. Results from the first vote count, published a week ago, showed she had received 19.5% of first choice votes. Like other candidates, Garcia criticized the board of elections overnight.
“The BOE’s release of incorrect ranked choice votes is deeply troubling and requires a much more transparent and complete explanation,” Garcia said.
“Every ranked choice and absentee vote must be counted accurately so that all New Yorkers have faith in our democracy and our government.”
There was no trace of any results, erroneous or otherwise, on the board of elections website on Wednesday morning.
Even if Tuesday’s total had not included 135,000 test ballots, it still would have created confusion: the tally would not have included the 124,000 absentee ballots which are yet to be counted. Those votes are set to be added to the total and published next week.
“Today’s mistake by the board of elections was unfortunate. It is critical that New Yorkers are confident in their electoral system, especially as we rank votes in a citywide election for the first time,” Adams said in a statement.
“We appreciate the board’s transparency and acknowledgment of their error. We look forward to the release of an accurate, updated simulation, and the timely conclusion of this critical process.”