New York City mayoral candidate Eric Adams still leads former sanitation commissioner Kathryn Garcia by about 14,000 votes after the first round of “ranked-choice voting” has been completed. Civil rights lawyer Maya Wiley is just 375 votes behind Garcia.
There are three candidates bunched together right now — all could win once the 125,000 absentee ballots are counted. But the results are already tainted beyond repair, and regardless of what the Board of Elections says, the tally is suspect.
Adams has already filed a suit in Kings County Supreme Court “to preserve our right to a fair election process.”
“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,” the Adams campaign said in a statement. “We invite the other campaigns to join us and petition the court as we all seek a clear and trusted conclusion to this election.”
We’re told that this a pro forma procedure. Andrew Yang, who has already conceded, filed a similar suit before the election. But the game has been altered dramatically by the Board of Elections’ inexplicable error in running election results while 135,000 sample ballots were still on the computer.
“Stupid is as stupid does,” said Forrest Gump. And the Board of Elections is just plain dumb.
The BOE has a long history of incompetence, nepotism, mismanagement, and corruption.
The board mistakenly purged about 200,000 people from voter rolls before the 2016 election. It forced some voters to wait in four-hour lines on Election Day 2018. It sent erroneous ballots to nearly 100,000 New Yorkers seeking to vote by mail last year.
And those are just the recent blunders.
So you would expect all those Trump-haters who accuse him of wildly exaggerating problems with American elections to rush to the defense of the BOE’s election fiasco rather than give the former president any acknowledgment that he may have been even a little right.
Voting rights advocates, who have devoted much of their time in recent months to highlighting efforts by Republican-led states to tighten voting restrictions, turned their attention Wednesday to the voting drama unfolding this time in one of the country’s liberal bastions.
“It’s not good timing,” said Lawrence Norden, director of the Brennan Center’s Election Reform Program. “Unfortunately, we’re living in a world where any errors in election administration are going to be used by political leaders to spread disinformation about our elections.”
In New York’s case, Norden added, “there was a real failure.”
Trump issued a statement saying, “Nobody will ever know who really won.” It will certainly be true if Eric Adams ends up losing the race.
The debacle also comes on the heels of another major election failure by Democrats, in last year’s Iowa caucuses, when new reporting software crashed, delaying results and leading to obvious inaccuracies when tallies finally began trickling out a day after voting was over.
This week, the New York City Board of Elections was not immediately forthcoming with details about what went wrong, and its press office did not reply to a request for comment. But the counting error and the ensuing uncertainty about who won have brought unfavorable attention to the city’s adoption this year of ranked-choice voting, which allows voters to select up to five candidates in order of preference.
Democratic elections give legitimacy to the government. This is why any blemish or doubts about the integrity of the election weaken the government and call into question its mandate to govern.
The concerns about American elections raised by Trump and others on the right are well-founded. Less than 60 years ago, some scholars believed Richard Nixon might have been robbed of the presidency by Mayor Daley in Chicago, who “found” thousands of votes previously uncounted to give Illinois to Kennedy. Less well-known was the late surge of Hispanic voters in JFK’s running mate Lyndon Johnson’s home state of Texas.
Elections are “amateur hour.” There are very few full-time, paid election workers in America. Most are poorly trained volunteers. A big step toward regaining voter trust might be to true up election boards and hire enough people to oversee our elections in a bipartisan manner.
New York may not prove Trump “right,” but it certainly gives us pause to think about his argument.