NYC mayoral primary in chaos after 135,000 pre-election test ballots counted

The New York City Board of Elections on Tuesday faced swift backlash over an error that resulted in 135,000 pre-election test votes being counted because they were not properly purged from the system.

The BOE took to Twitter to announce the issue and said these test votes were not cleared from the Election Management System. The board apologized and said it took “immediate measures to ensure the most accurate up to date results are reported.”

Karol Markowicz, a columnist for the New York Post, tweeted, “Can’t be overstated how damaging this kind of thing is to public trust in elections.”

The New York Times pointed out that the city used ranked-choice voting, which allows voters to list their top five candidates in order. Since no candidate was the first choice of more than 50% of voters, a computer on Tuesday tabulated ballots in a series of rounds that worked like instant run-offs.

In each round, the candidate in last place was eliminated. Votes cast for that person were then redistributed to the surviving candidates, based on whoever voters put next on their ranking list. That process repeated until only two candidates were left.

That data had indicated that Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, a former police captain who would be the city’s second Black mayor, had lost much of his lead and was ahead of former sanitation commissioner Kathryn Garcia by fewer than 16,000 votes. Besides Adams and Garcia, civil rights lawyer Maya Wiley was also still within striking distance of victory.

The New York Post reported that it was Adams who first spotted a 100,000-vote discrepancy on Tuesday.

“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.”

The final result is not expected until mid-July.

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