The biggest absurdity about this week’s Board of Elections debacle is that it took the campaign of one of the Democratic mayoral candidates, leading contender Eric Adams, to notify the agency that it had added tens of thousands of votes out of the blue to the tally it initially had reported.
How is it that no one at the BOE realized, before it announced those false results Tuesday, that there were about 135,000 more votes in its ranked-choice calculations than actually had been cast the week before? Never before have we seen the board announce preliminary election results — and you can’t even call them that because so many votes have not even been counted yet — and then pull them back. It’s a terrible embarrassment.
When Adams first pointed out the discrepancy in vote tallies, some in the must-immediately-respond world of Twitter criticized him and even made allusions to former President Trump’s false claims about the 2020 election. Nope. Adams was absolutely right.
Ironically, the “correct” results reported by the BOE later Wednesday, as this paper already was going to press, hew very closely to the false ones from the day before. Adams has an extremely slim lead over Kathryn Garcia. The others appear to be out of it after nine rounds of ranked-choice vote counting.
But don’t forget: Even if “correct,” none of this is real yet. That’s because the board has yet to even begin tallying the 125,000 absentee ballots it received. And when the difference between Adams and Garcia is less than 15,000 votes, those 125,000 could change everything. Alas, state law prevents the BOE from counting absentee ballots until later in the process.
That’s why it would be better if the board refrained from announcing any results at all until all votes have been tallied.
Along with that, the state should change the law to allow the BOE to start counting absentee ballots as they come in, not weeks after an election, which is how it stands now, for no good reason.
The leadership of the BOE should be dismissed in its entirety and replaced by professional people who can do the job, rather than those who get their positions through patronage.
The City Council should pass Southeast Queens Councilman Daneek Miller’s bill to give residents another chance to vote on RCV, now that they’ve seen it in action. It’s a convoluted mess with little to no benefit. Along with overly generous public financing, it encourages absolutely hopeless candidates to remain in races they have no business being in. And as seen Tuesday, it confuses not only the voter, but apparently also the vote counter.
It’s imperative that people believe their vote counts and that the results are real. The BOE and its RCV debacle fail in that regard.