NEW YORK — After six weeks of delays and fights over disputed ballots, U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney has been certified as the winner of the Democratic congressional primary in New York.
Vote tabulation in the June 23 primary stretched out over half the summer because of a record number of people who cast ballots by mail because of the coronavirus pandemic. Vote tallies were made available Aug. 5. With AP calling the race, Maloney successfully defended her seat against challengers including Suraj Patel.
In that race, a federal judge has ordered city elections officials to count more than 1,000 additional mail-in ballots that had initially been discarded because they lacked a postmark indicating what day they were sent.
Nevertheless, the elections board certified the race as complete Aug. 4.
“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. “This has been a historic election, with historic turnout and participation — and a historic wait time for results. We’ve learned many lessons for November, and must take a number of actions to protect the safety of our vote in the general election.”
Patel, who was a plaintiff in the lawsuit demanding that some disqualified ballots be counted, said he is not conceding because the vote tally is not final. “The democratic process does not end when it becomes politically inconvenient,” Patel, a lawyer and activist, said Aug. 5.
New York state decided to allow anyone to vote by mail in the June primary because of the coronavirus pandemic. More than 400,000 people voted by absentee ballot in New York City, a figure that was 10 times the number of absentee ballots cast in the 2016 primary.
Opening and counting those ballots took weeks and candidates observing the count say that thousands of ballots were disqualified because of technical errors voters wouldn’t have encountered if they had voted in person, like missing postmarks or problems with their signature.
The vote-counting delays in Maloney’s district prompted President Donald Trump to call for a do-over of the primary. “I think you probably have to take the Carolyn Maloney race and run it over again,” Trump, who has asserted without evidence that main-in voting is subject to widespread fraud, said Aug. 3.
India-West Staff Reporter adds: According to a salon.com report, the Patel campaign called the certification preliminary.
"The count has been preliminarily certified subject to our court ruling," Patel spokesperson Cassie Moreno told Salon. "It should concern all of us that the state is now appealing a decision — using taxpayer money — to fight to keep votes from being counted. If our opponent's claims are true, why does she want the count to stop now? Why doesn't she want votes to be counted? We'll continue to shine a light on this situation as far as it goes, because it's so much bigger than us now. It's about the right to have your vote counted in the midst of a global pandemic."