One in 5 Mail-In Ballots Not Counted in New York City Primary

August 6, 2020 Updated: August 6, 2020

Approximately 20 percent of mail-in ballots sent in by voters in New York City were not counted, according to new certified election results.

Some 318,995 mail-in ballots were counted in the June 23 Democratic presidential primary, the city Board of Elections said in the new certification.

Approximately 414,582 voters in New York City voted by absentee ballot in the primary, Robert Brehm, the co-executive director of the state’s Board of Elections, said in court last month.

That means more than one in five ballots were rejected for one reason or another.

“Wow. Over 84,000 New Yorkers did not have their voices heard in the June 23rd primary—many due to no fault of their own,” Suraj Patel, a candidate for New York’s 12 Congressional District, said in a social media statement.

The issues stemmed in part from more than 10 times the number of absentee ballots being used than in a normal year after Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo mandated in June that any voter who wanted to could vote by mail.

U.S. Postal Service workers struggled to handle the volume and failed to properly process some ballots.

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“I voted” stickers sit on a table at the BrooklynMuseum polling site during the New York Democratic presidential primary elections in New York City, N.Y., on July 23, 2020. (Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images)

Others were rejected because they were incomplete or lacked a valid postmark or signature. In one district in Brooklyn, according to court filings, 1,135 of the 8,285 absentee ballots received by the board of elections in the week leading up to the primary lacked a postmark and were ruled invalid by election officials.

U.S. District Judge Analisa Nadine Torres ruled on Monday that the state Board of Elections must direct all local boards of elections to count valid absentee ballots.

Citing testimony by Douglas Kellner, another state commissioner, the judge said state and city election officials set up “a voting process where arbitrary factors lead the state to valuing one person’s vote over that of another—the kind of process specifically prohibited by the Supreme Court.”

The state Board of Elections is appealing the decision.

“Given the totality of the circumstances here, we understand the desire to protect the rights of voters,” Kellner said in a statement sent to The Epoch Times. “However, this will place a tremendous burden on the local boards of elections as they are preparing for the November general election and is highly unlikely to change the results in any contest.”

The city Board of Elections hasn’t responded to requests for comment.

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Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) leads a hearing about CCP virus preparedness and response on Capitol Hill in Washington on March 12, 2020. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

The board on Tuesday declared Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) the winner over Patel, who challenged her in the Democrat primary and was one of the plaintiffs in the case involving mail-in ballots.

“I’m thrilled the voters of NY-12 have decided to return me to Congress for another term, with a decisive winning margin that clearly reflects the will of the voters,” Maloney said in a statement.

Patel said the city Board of Elections defied the court ruling by preliminary certifying the race without a final vote tally and that he’s not conceding for now.

Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat, told reporters this week that the board “can do better and must do better.”

The board should be replaced by a “modern management-focused agency to do this work better in the future,” the mayor said, but added that he’s confident the board can handle the 2020 presidential election.

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