Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams holds a slim lead in the New York City Democratic mayoral primary, with a two-point edge over former Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia in the latest round of incomplete and unofficial election results released Wednesday. It was the second time in two days that election officials tabulated the ballots and released the results of New York City's first citywide ranked-choice election.
Wednesday's release came after a chaotic 24 hours when the New York City Board of Elections released results that had accidentally included tens of thousands of test ballots in the results and then, hours later, pulled those results from their website and said more results would be released Wednesday.
"Yesterday's ranked choice voting reporting error was unacceptable and we apologize to the voters and to the campaigns for the confusion," Board of Elections President Frederic Umane and Secretary Miguelina Camilo said in a statement. "Let us be clear: (ranked-choice voting) was not the problem, rather a human error that could have been avoided. We have implemented another layer of review and quality control before publishing information going forward."
"We can say with certainty that the election night vote counts were and are accurate and the RCV data put out today is correct as well," the statement added.
The unofficial results released on Wednesday are ranked-choice voting tabulations from votes cast on primary day and during early in-person voting. They do not include approximately 125,000 absentee ballots. On July 6, the Board of Elections is expected to include those ballots and re-run the ranked-choice tabulations with those votes.
The final standings from this tabulation show Adams with 14,750 votes more than Garcia, leading 51% to 49%, the same percentage margin separating the candidates in Tuesday's botched results. The unofficial tally shows that Adams' lead has narrowed since primary night. Initial results of first-choice votes cast on primary day and early voting had Adams ahead of the field by about 10 points with about 31% of the vote. Civil rights attorney Maya Wiley was in second and Garcia trailed Wiley by a couple of points.
"There are still absentee ballots to be counted that we believe favor Eric and we are confident we will be the final choice of New Yorkers when every vote is tallied," Adams' campaign said in a statement Wednesday.
In the results released Wednesday, Garcia made it into the final round by edging out Wiley by just 347 votes.
Garcia said in a statement, "Every candidate should respect the democratic process and be committed to supporting whomever the voters have selected to be the Democratic nominee for Mayor. "
No. Even though the unofficial results say she's been eliminated, the ballots will be re-tabulated with the ranked-choice process next week.
Wiley says "this election is still wide open," and she's not wrong because of the large number of outstanding absentee ballots.
Veteran election lawyer Jerry Goldfeder told CBS News that it's common for candidates to file pre-emptive lawsuits as a protective measure "to protect their legal rights" because the deadline to file lawsuits is on Friday. Adams' campaign announced Wednesday that they filed a lawsuit "to preserve our right to a fair election process."
Tuesday's error is not the first blunder for the New York City Board of Elections. The board mistakenly purged about 200,000 voters from voter rolls ahead of the 2016 election and there were long lines during the 2018 midterms because of problems with voting equipment. In 2020, it took weeks to sort out a contentious Congressional primary because of issues counting mail-in ballots. Ahead of the 2020 general election, 100,000 voters were mistakenly sent incorrect return envelopes for mail-in ballots.
New York City's current mayor Bill de Blasio renewed calls for changes to the election agency. Those reforms will likely have to come from state lawmakers in Albany. De Blasio encouraged the state legislature to pass a bill that would professionalize the agency and said the state constitution should be amended to allow for a "new, professional board, removed of party affiliation."
New York Senate Majority Leader Andrea-Stewart Cousins said she plans to hold hearings about the situation in the coming weeks.
"The situation in New York City is a national embarrassment and must be dealt with promptly and properly," Stewart-Cousins said.
The Board of Elections has started processing the 125,000 absentee ballots. The city is expected to redo the ranked-choice voting tabulation with many of those ballots and release results on July 6. Voters have until July 9 to fix any issues with their absentee ballots, meaning final results may not be ready until the week of July 12.