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New York City Mayor Race Hobbled by Counting Error

FILE - Residents vote during the New York City mayoral primary election at the Brooklyn Museum polling station, in New York City, June 22, 2021. A tabulation error has cast a shadow on the final vote count.

New York Democratic voters continued to fret Thursday after a massive error in the tallying of votes for the mayoral primary election Tuesday cast doubt on the city’s election process.

The first results released by the city’s Board of Elections, which showed candidate and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams with a healthy lead, mistakenly included 135,000 test ballots.

The board quickly deleted the tally and posted results Wednesday showing Adams with a much slimmer lead over former Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia.

Final results could be weeks away as 125,000 absentee ballots still need to be counted.

This is the first time the city has used ranked-choice voting, in which a candidate must garner 50% or more of the vote in the first round to win. Voters rank up to five candidates. Those with the fewest votes are eliminated, and their votes are then given to surviving candidates based on ranking until the candidate with half of the vote or more is declared the winner.

"Yesterday's ranked-choice voting reporting error was unacceptable, and we apologize to the voters and to the campaigns for the confusion," Board of Elections President Frederic Umane and Board of Elections Secretary Miguelina Camilo said in a statement. "Let us be clear: (ranked-choice voting) was not the problem, rather a human error that could have been avoided. We have implemented another layer of review and quality control before publishing information going forward."

New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio called the city’s election system “broken,” while his predecessor, Michael Bloomberg, characterized the Board of Elections as “worse than the gang that couldn’t shoot straight.”

The Associated Press reported that the latest problem with New York City’s elections is just another in a long line of mishaps that includes names wrongly removed from voter rolls, long lines at polling stations and other equipment breakdowns.

“It’s mishap after mishap after mishap,” said Assemblywoman Nily Rozic, according to AP. “No other government entity could have such a dismal track record and face absolutely no accountability.”

Some information in this report came from The Associated Press.