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NYC issues new Democratic primary results after snafu created confusion

Eric Adams, who leads by thin margin over Kathryn Garcia, filed a lawsuit Wednesday to have a judge review the count.
Mayoral candidate Eric Adams thanks 32BJ SEIU union volunteers and essential workers after landing the most 1st place votes in Democratic Party primaries at union headquarters in New York on June 25, 2021.
Mayoral candidate Eric Adams thanks 32BJ SEIU union volunteers and essential workers after landing the most 1st place votes in Democratic Party primaries at union headquarters in New York on June 25, 2021.Lev Radin / Sipa via AP Images

The New York City Board of Elections released new numbers from the Democratic primary on Wednesday after it rescinded the results a day before because of a confounding tabulation error.

"Yesterday's ranked-choice voting reporting error was unacceptable and we apologize to the voters and to the campaigns for the confusion," the board said in a statement on Wednesday. "Let us be clear: [rank choice voting] was not the problem, rather a human error that could have been avoided."

It was the city’s first foray into ranked-choice voting, which allowed voters to rank up to five candidates by preference, and by Tuesday evening the board thrust the race into a state of suspended animation after it acknowledged that 135,000 test ballots were accidentally included in the first initial report from the June 22 Democratic primary.

This prompted officials to remove preliminary numbers from the elections website hours after posting them. This happened, the board explained that evening, despite its "rigorous and mandatory pre-qualification testing" for every election.

Wednesday's results appear to remain largely unchanged, with Adams still in a tight race against former city sanitation chief Kathryn Garcia — roughly 51 percent to 49 percent, respectively.

However, Adams filed a lawsuit on Wednesday after the tabulation error.

“Today we petitioned the court to preserve our right to a fair election process and to have a judge oversee and review ballots, if necessary,” his campaign said in a statement. “We are notifying the other campaigns of our lawsuit through personal service, as required by law, because they are interested parties. We invite the other campaigns to join us and petition the court as we all seek a clear and trusted conclusion to this election.”

The faulty tabulation report included 11 rounds and showed Adams and Garcia emerge as the top two contenders. However, Wednesday's report shows nine rounds. There are also more than 120,000 outstanding absentee ballots to be counted, and the final results may not be known until early to mid-July.

Garcia called the snafu “deeply troubling” in a statement on Tuesday, but also signaled that her campaign remains confident. Adams’ campaign, which had initially pointed out the vote discrepancy shortly after the faulty preliminary results were released, said it is also confident the former New York Police Department captain would ultimately prevail.

State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, a Democrat, blasted the board of elections in a statement on Wednesday, calling it a “national embarrassment.”

“The situation in New York City is a national embarrassment and must be dealt with promptly and properly. In the coming weeks, the Senate will be holding hearings on this situation and will seek to pass reform legislation as a result at the earliest opportunity,” she said.

The board said in its statement on Wednesday that it has added another layer of review and quality control before publishing information.

"We can say with certainty that the election night vote counts were and are accurate and the [rank choice voting] data put out today is correct as well," the statement said. "As we continue to count absentee ballots and run further [rank choice voting] tabulations, we will do so with a heightened sense that we must regain the trust of New Yorkers. We will continue to hold ourselves accountable and apologize to New York City voters for any confusion."

The winner will move onto the general election in November against Republican nominee Curtis Sliwa.