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NEW YORK (AP) – The Democratic primary for New York City Mayor got into confusion on Tuesday when election officials withdrew their latest vote count report after finding it had been corrupted by test data never from a computer system have been deleted.
The botch was a black mark on New York’s first major foray into the rankings vote and seemed to confirm concerns that the city’s joint Democratic and Republican electoral committee was unprepared to adopt the new system.
The mess started in the evening when the board abruptly withdrew data it had released earlier in the day, which was supposedly a first round of results from the ranking selection system.
These data had shown that Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, a former police captain who was to become the city’s second black mayor, had lost much of his leadership and was ahead of former sanitation officer Kathryn Garcia by less than 16,000 votes.
Then the electoral committee tweeted that it was aware of a “discrepancy” in its report on the results of the ranking vote. It did not initially explain what this discrepancy was, even when it pulled the data from its website.
Shortly before 10:30 p.m., she released a statement that 135,000 ballot images that she had entered into her computer system for testing purposes were never released.
“The board apologizes for the mistake and has taken immediate action to ensure the most accurate up-to-date results are reported,” said a statement.
The results, originally published on Tuesday and then withdrawn, were initially incomplete as they did not include any of the nearly 125,000 postal votes cast in the Democratic primary.
The Associated Press removed Tuesday’s vote update from its published vote count after the board pulled the results.
Adams’ campaign, which publicly pointed out the discrepancy shortly after the erroneous count was published, said in a statement that it remains confident that it will ultimately prevail.
The published votes included an unexpected increase in the number of ballots counted on Tuesday compared to the number on the day of the primary.
Garcia said in a press conference late afternoon before the numbers were withdrawn that she was confident she had a path to victory but she “didn’t count chickens before they hatch”.
Her campaign later issued a statement saying she was monitoring the situation.
“We encourage all New Yorkers to be patient and hope that when an update comes, it will contain a transparent explanation of the process,” it said.
Election officials had planned to conduct another round of ranking analysis on July 6th, which would include postal votes. A note posted on the election committee’s website indicated that an attempt will be made on Wednesday to publish accurate results without a postal vote.
The New York City primaries were put on hold a week ago as officials prepared to give the public an initial look at the results of the city’s new ranking voting system.
According to the system, voters could nominate up to five candidates in the order of their preference.
Since no candidate was the first choice of more than 50% of voters, a computer generated the ballot papers on Tuesday in a series of rounds that worked like an instant runoff.
The last-placed candidate was eliminated in each round. The votes cast for that person were then redistributed to the surviving candidates based on the voters next on their ranking. This process was repeated until there were only two candidates left.
In addition to Adams and Garcia, civil rights attorney Maya Wiley was still within striking distance of victory.
When the vote ended on June 22nd, election officials only released results showing who was listed by voters as their first choice for the job. In that count, Adams had around 75,000 votes ahead of Wiley, closely followed by Garcia in third place.
The New York City Electoral Committee, which operates independently of City Hall, has a longstanding reputation for making mistakes and mismanagement.
Before the 2016 elections, tens of thousands of voters were mistakenly removed from the electoral roll. In 2018, voters had to queue for several hours at some polling stations due to equipment problems.
In 2020, she struggled to process requests for postal votes and initially sent many voters ballot papers with return envelopes printed with the wrong names.
The Democratic grand prize winner becomes the prohibitive favorite in the general election against Curtis Sliwa, Republican founder of the Guardian Angels.
Either Adams or Wiley would be the second black mayor of New York City, and either Garcia or Wiley would be the first woman mayor.
Adams, 60, is a moderate Democrat who turned against the Defund the Police movement, saying that under his leadership the city could find a way to fight crime while fighting a legacy of racial injustice in the police force.
He was previously a senator in the state before becoming district president of Brooklyn, a job where he has no legislative power but does some constituent services and discretionary city expenses.
Garcia, 51, is a city government veteran who served as a non-ideological crisis manager well suited to bringing New York out of a century of pandemic.
Garcia headed the hygiene department from 2014 until he left in September last year to consider a candidacy for mayor’s office. De Blasio also hired Garcia to run a food distribution emergency program during the coronavirus pandemic, having previously appointed her interim chairman of the city’s contested social housing system.
Previously, she was Chief Operating Officer of the city’s environmental protection agency, responsible for water and sewage systems.
Wiley, 57, served as a lawyer for Mayor Bill de Blasio and previously chaired a civil panel investigating complaints of police misconduct. As a former legal analyst for MSNBC, she ran as a progressive cutting $ 1 billion from the police budget and redirecting it to other city officials.
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