The New York City Board of Elections certified Rep. Carolyn Maloney as the winner of the 12th Congressional District’s Democratic primary Tuesday, defeating progressive challenger Suraj Patel.
The decision comes six weeks after the primary and the day after a federal judge in Manhattan ruled that some absentee ballots, which had been invalidated, be counted. But those alone would not be enough to overturn Maloney’s lead.
Patel and his legal team have pledged to fight on and revive the count, which has been plagued by a slow, muddled process that has grabbed national attention as President Donald Trump zeroed in on the race to fuel doubt over mail-in voting ahead of the general election in November.
Maloney led Patel by about 3,700 votes at the time of certification. Results for the June 23 election will be posted on Wednesday, according to the Valerie Vazquez-Diaz, communications director of the city’s election board.
An influx of absentee ballots due to the coronavirus outbreak severely hampered the city’s ability to count the votes in a timely manner, drawing widespread criticism among progressives and voting rights advocates around the country.
Patel sued to count mail ballots that arrived after the state deadline – but were not postmarked by election day, as many of the ballots in question were not postmarked at all.
US District Court Judge Analisa Torres ruled late Monday that the New York State Board of Elections must “direct all local boards of elections to count all otherwise valid absentee ballots cast in the June 23 Primary which were (1) received by June 24, 2020, without regard to whether such ballots are postmarked by June 23, 2020 and (2) received by June 25, 2020, so long as such ballots are not postmarked later than June 23, 2020.”
The state board released a statement Tuesday saying they would appeal the decision.
“There must be uniform rules in the administration of elections and those rules are set by the Legislature in the Election Law,” said New York State Board of Elections Commissioner and Co-Chair, Peter S. Kosinski said in the statement. “Those laws governing the canvassing of ballots were followed by all the local board of elections. To establish a precedent that says the State Board has the authority to supplant the enacted laws of the Legislature at any time is dangerous and threatens to undermine the orderly administration of elections.”
Patel has not conceded the race and, as of Tuesday morning, said he had no plans to give up in his efforts to push for more currently invalidated ballots to be counted. He also took a shot at Maloney, who had declared herself the victor before the board called the race, for allowing Trump to use the race as a cudgel against mail-in voting.
“I have no reason to concede this race because we have thousands of ballots left to count,” Patel said on a call with reporters Tuesday. “And I would hope that the chair of the Oversight Committee in the House of Representatives, who is going to be tasked with holding Trump to task in November on these very same issues, would stand on principle with the Constitution and set the right precedent to count the maximum number of votes from her district.”
A day earlier, Trump conflated the issues in New York, which were rooted in an outdated infrastructure struggling to meet the demands created by the pandemic, with his own attempts to gin up concerns over voter fraud, which has not been alleged by any campaign or outside observers.
“It’s been a total disaster,” Trump said of the races in New York. “They have – they’re six weeks into it now, they have no clue what’s going on. And I mean I think I can say right here and now, I think you have to rerun that race because it’s a mess. Nobody knows what’s happening with the ballots and the lost ballots and the fraudulent ballots, I guess.”