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New York City Board of Elections withdraws updated results in mayoral primary, cites counting error

Election 2021 NYC Mayoral race ranked-choice voting
Posted at 9:07 AM, Jun 30, 2021

NEW YORK — The Democratic primary for mayor of New York City was thrown into a state of confusion Tuesday when election officials abruptly retracted their latest report on the vote count after realizing it had been corrupted by test data that was never cleared from a computer system.

New York City's Board of Elections withdrew data Tuesday evening that it had released earlier purporting to be a first round of results from the city's new ranked-choice voting system.

The results released Tuesday had shown Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams losing much of his lead, with former sanitation commissioner Kathryn Garcia closing the gap to just 16,000 votes.

However, the Board of Elections abruptly withdrew those results on Tuesday afternoon.

"We are aware there is a discrepancy in the unofficial RCV round by round elimination report," the New York City Board of Elections tweeted on Tuesday evening. "We are working with our RCV technical staff to identify where the discrepancy occurred. We ask the public, elected officials and candidates to have patience."

Late Tuesday evening, the Board of Elections said that it had inadvertently included 135,000 test ballots in the count. Officials said the test ballots had been included in the system earlier but had never cleared them from the roles.

"The Board apologizes for the error and has taken immediate measures to ensure the most accurate up to date results are reported," it said in a statement.

New Yorkers have been waiting for results of the primary for more than a week as election officials parse tallies in a new rank-choice voting system.

In the June 22 primary, New York voters in the Democratic primary will have the opportunity to select as many as five candidates (but as few as one) and rank them in order of preference.

Because no candidate received 50% of first-place votes on Election Day, officials are now in the process of eliminating the candidates with the fewest first-place choices in rounds. Every time a candidate is eliminated, their votes are redistributed based on a voter's second choice. The process repeats itself until a candidate reaches a 50% threshold.

The winner of the Democratic primary will be the heavy favorite in the November general election against GOP primary winner Curtis Sliwa.