A federal judge ruled Monday that approximately 1,000 absentee ballots that were not postmarked by the deadline — if they were even postmarked at all — must be counted in a New York congressional primary that still hasn’t been decided after six weeks, according to The New York Times.
Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y) appears to have beaten challenger Suraj Patel in the Democratic primary for New York’s 12th congressional district, but her current margin over Patel is only 3,700 votes, and there are more than 12,000 disputed ballots.
Judge Analisa Torres of Federal District Court in Manhattan ruled that 1,000 of the disputed ballots must be counted after failures by the postal service have undermined the election and delayed a final result by nearly two months. From the Times:
Under Judge Torres’s decision, ballots received the day after Election Day — June 24 — will be counted “without regard to whether such ballots are postmarked by June 23.” Mr. Patel estimates that this amounts to about 1,200 ballots, which would not be enough for him to overtake Ms. Maloney. Ballots that were received by June 25 — two days after the election deadline — would also be valid, so long as they did not have a postmark later than June 23.
In sworn testimony last week, postal officials conceded that their system of identifying and postmarking ballots — a critical element in determining whether ballots were sent by the Election Day deadline — was not foolproof, and that some ballots had not been postmarked.
New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo expanded absentee voting because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which hit New York harder than any other location in the country. However, the resulting surge in mailed ballots overwhelmed the postal service and election officials.
More than 400,000 absentee ballots were cast in New York City during the primary season, which is more than were submitted in the entire state during the 2018 election.
The troubles in the New York City congressional primary fuels concerns about what the November election might look like if much of the country is voting by mail because of continued concerns about the spread of COVID-19. President Donald Trump has even suggested delaying the election rather than using mail-in voting as the primary method of casting ballots.
The president has paid some attention to the delayed NY-12 primary, calling it “a total disaster.”
“They’re six weeks into it now,” Trump said, according to NYT. “They have no clue what’s going on.”