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NYC officials say 135K 'test' ballots mistakenly counted in Democratic primary

By Zarrin Ahmed
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NYC officials say 135K 'test' ballots mistakenly counted in Democratic primary
Brooklyn Borough President and New York City mayoral candidate Eric Adams is seen after casting his vote in the Democratic primary in New York City on June 22. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

June 30 (UPI) -- The New York City mayoral race has added a layer of confusion -- and frustration for at least one candidate -- after elections officials mistakenly tabulated about 135,000 test ballots that weren't supposed to be counted.

Officials on Tuesday released the first updated count for the Democratic primary since the election a week ago. When they did, it showed that second-place candidate Kathryn Garcia had narrowed Eric Adams' lead to about 16,000 votes.

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Later, however, officials retracted the update and said the test ballots were never removed from the computer. They said they hoped to have a more accurate update in the race on Wednesday.

The race, for the first time in New York City, is using a ranked choice system -- which determines a winner by tabulating the ranked preferences on each ballot. Since no candidate was the No. 1 choice on 50% of ballots, the winner will be determined by assessing who was most popular among voters' rankings. The process works like a series of instant runoffs.

Both Adams and Garcia asked for explanations after the discrepancy was found.

"Today's mistake by the Board of Election was unfortunate," Adams tweeted. "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."

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Garcia, who is likely to lose some of the ground she made up in the erroneous update, called the miscalculation "deeply troubling" and said it "requires a much more transparent and complete explanation."

Democratic hopeful Andrew Yang finished in third place, according to last week's figures, and dropped out of the race.

The figures do not yet include about 125,000 absentee ballots. Officials said they expect absentee ballots to be included in the tally in a scheduled update on July 6.

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The Republican primary, conversely, was a two-man contest. Curtis Sliwa won with almost 70% of the vote and will face the winner of the Democratic race during the general election in November.

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