New York mayor’s race in chaos after electoral board withdrew results
The New York mayoral race plunged into chaos on Tuesday night when the city’s board of elections released a new vote tally in the Democratic mayor’s primary, then removed tabs from its website after quoting a gap “.
Results released earlier today had suggested that the race between Eric Adams and his two closest rivals had tightened considerably.
But just hours after the release of the preliminary results, the electoral commission issued a cryptic tweet revealing a “gap” in the report, claiming he was working with his “technical staff to identify where the gap had occurred.”
On Tuesday evening, the paintings had been removed, replaced by a new tip that the results of the ranked choices would be available “from June 30”.
Then, around 10:30 p.m., the board finally released a statement, explaining that it had not removed the sample ballot images used to test its ranking voting software. When the board of directors ran the program, it counted “both test results and election night results, producing about 135,000 additional records,” the statement said. The numbers of ranked picks, he said, would again be tabulated.
The extraordinary sequence of events created even more confusion as to the outcome and threw the closely watched competition into a new period of uncertainty at an important time for the city.
For the Election Council, which has long been plagued by dysfunction and nepotism, this was its first attempt to implement classification voting at the city level, and skeptics had expressed doubts. on the Council’s ability to implement the process despite its successful use in other cities.
Under preferential voting, voters can register up to five candidates on their ballots in preferential order. If no candidate obtains more than 50 percent of the first-choice votes in the first round, the winner is determined through an elimination process: as the lowest-voting candidates are eliminated, their votes are reallocated to the candidate that those candidates. voters are ranked then, and the process continues until there is a winner.
The electoral council released preliminary and unofficial ranked-choice tabulations on Tuesday afternoon, showing Mr. Adams – who had had a significant advantage on the night of the primaries – was narrowly ahead of Kathryn Garcia in the ballots cast in person during early voting or during the primary. Day. Maya D. Wiley, who came in second in the initial vote count, was just behind in third place.
Hours later, the board revealed its unspecified deviation, and it was not at all clear Tuesday night how accurate the most recent tally was, or if it was accurate at all.
The results may well be muddled again: Even after the Elections Council has sorted out the preliminary tally, it must count around 124,000 Democratic postal ballots. Once they’re counted, the board will take the new total that includes them and run a new round of ranked-choice elimination rounds, with a final result expected before mid-July.
Some Democrats, bracing for an acrimonious new chapter in the race, fear that the gradual publication of the results by the electoral council – and the discovery of a possible error – can create distrust of the preferential vote and sow racial and class divisions when the outcome is finally announced.
In a tweet Tuesday night, Mr. Adams sought to project insurance.
“Earlier today, the Election Council released a mock choice vote ranked based on last week’s election results that it has since recognized as ‘discrepancies’,” Adams wrote. “We are awaiting an explanation and remain confident in our advance.”
If elected, Mr. Adams would be the city’s second black mayor, after David N. Dinkins. Some of Mr Adams’ supporters have previously presented the classified choice process as an attempt to deny voters of color the right to vote, an argument that intensified among some supporters on Tuesday afternoon as the race appeared to tighten , and is virtually certain to escalate if he loses his main night leads to Ms. Garcia, who is white.
Mr. Adams’ surrogates suggested without evidence that an apparent alliance between Ms. Garcia and another rival, Andrew Yang, could amount to an attempt to suppress the votes of black and Latino New Yorkers; Mr Adams himself claimed the alliance was aimed at preventing a “colored person” from winning the race.
In the final days of the race, Ms. Garcia and Mr. Yang campaigned together across the city, especially in neighborhoods that are home to large Asian-American communities, and together appeared on campaign materials.
For proponents of priority voting, the turn-based reshuffling of the results is part of the process of electing a very attractive candidate. Mr Adams said he would accept the election results, even though he and his allies have long been critical of the preferential vote.
But if Ms Garcia or Ms Wiley were to win, the process – which was approved by voters in a 2019 poll – would likely attract further scrutiny, with some of Mr Adams’ supporters and others already calling for a new one. referendum on this. Tuesday night, however, it was the Election Office that drew anger from all corners.
Betsy Gotbaum, the city’s former public attorney who now heads the Citizens’ Union, a good government group, said “the whole country is watching” the Elections Council. “New Yorkers deserve an election, and election administrators they can trust the most,” said Gotbaum.
While difficult, it is not uncommon for a candidate lagging behind in a ranked choice election to ultimately win the race in subsequent rounds of voting – this happened in Oakland, Calif., In 2010. , and almost performed in San Francisco in 2018.
The winner of the New York Democratic primary, who is almost certain to become the city’s next mayor, will face Curtis Sliwa, the founder of the Guardian Angels, who won the Republican primary.
According to the now-withdrawn table released on Tuesday, Ms Wiley, former adviser to Mayor Bill de Blasio, has almost reached the final round. She finished close behind Ms Garcia, the former sanitation commissioner, before being eliminated in the penultimate round of the preliminary exercise.
After the ballot count in person last week, Ms Garcia had followed Ms Wiley by about 2.6 percentage points. When asked if she had been in contact with Ms Wiley’s team, Ms Garcia suggested that there had been conversations at the staff level.
“The campaigns have spoken to each other,” Garcia said in a phone call Tuesday afternoon, saying the two candidates had not yet spoken directly to each other. “I hope we don’t have to intervene with lawyers. But it’s really about making sure the voices of New York City are heard.
Ms Wiley has placed herself well to the left of Ms Garcia on a number of vital political issues, including law enforcement and some education issues. Either candidate would be New York’s first female mayor, and Ms Wiley would be the city’s first black female mayor.
“I said on election night, we need to allow the democratic process to continue and to count every vote so that New Yorkers have confidence in our democracy and our government,” Ms. Wiley said in a statement Tuesday. “And we all have to support its results. “
Mr Adams, a former police captain and relatively moderate on several key issues, was a non-starter to many progressive voters who may have preferred Ms Garcia and her focus on competence over any particularly ideological message.
But early results suggested that Mr. Adams had significant strength among working class voters of color, and some traction among white voters with moderate opinions.
City Councilor I. Daneek Miller, an Adams backer pushing for a new preferential vote referendum, suggested in a text message Tuesday that the system had opened the door to “an attempt to remove the candidate from the workers moderates and traditionally marginalized communities, ”as he implicitly criticized the Yang-Garcia alliance.
“It is now incumbent upon us to address the issue of classified voting and how it is used as a weapon against a large part of the public,” said Miller, co-chair of the Black, Latino and Asian Caucus on the City. Advice.
Other keen election observers separately expressed unease over the decision to publish a ranked pick count regardless of the mail ballots.
“There is a real danger that voters will come to believe a set of race facts that will be disproved when all the votes are gathered,” said Ben Greenfield, senior survey data analyst at Change Research, who has conducted a poll for a pro-Garcia. PAC. “The risk is that it takes an already new and confusing system and increases people’s sense of mistrust. “
Dana Rubinstein, Jeffery C. Mays, Anne Barnard, Andy Newman and Mihir Zaveri contributed reporting.