Over 20% of mail-in ballots were rejected in the June 23 Democratic presidential primary. Over 84,000 mail-in votes were disqualified, according to a New York Post report.
The New York City Board of Elections said it received 403,103 mail-in ballots, but only 318,995 vote-by-mail ballots were counted. That means that 84,108 mail-in votes were not counted or invalidated, which is 21% of the total. Approximately 30,000 mail-in ballots in Brooklyn, which is 25% of mail-in ballots in the borough, were dismissed.
The reasons why the ballots were rejected include arriving late, lacking a postmark, or no signature from the voter.
“It’s nuts. That is way too high,” Justin Levitt, a former Department of Justice voting rights official and current professor at Loyola Law School, told NBC News. “The rejection rates shows, I think, two things running headlong into each other. They show some very real problems with New York laws. … It also shows the fact that New Yorkers aren’t used to voting by mail.”
After six weeks, a New York congressional primary has yet to be decided. On Monday, a federal judge ruled that about 1,000 absentee ballots that were not postmarked by the deadline must be counted. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) currently has a 3,700-vote lead over challenger Suraj Patel, but there are 12,000 disputed ballots in the Democratic primary for New York’s 12th congressional district.
“The Board of Elections can do better and must do better,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) said this week. “I think we need to move to a different approach, create a modern management-focused agency to do this work better in the future.”
The mayor was confident that the Board of Elections would be ready for the presidential election in November.
“I am certain they can learn from this and be prepared for the general election,” de Blasio said. “Three months is a long time.”
New York City’s mail-in debacle comes at the same time that New Jersey saw 19% of mail-in ballots disqualified in the municipal elections held in Paterson, New Jersey.
New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal announced voter fraud charges against four men, including two Paterson City officials, who allegedly engaged in a mail-in ballot scheme during a special election in May.
The U.S. Postal Inspection Service discovered over 800 ballots in a single Paterson City mailbox. The ballots were turned over to law enforcement to investigate, and the state attorney was notified.
One incumbent councilman retained his seat by merely eight votes, while another was elected by fewer than 250 votes.
Paterson City Councilman Michael Jackson, Councilman-elect Alex Mendez, and two other men were charged by the state attorney general for crimes including fraud in casting mail-in votes, tampering, and unauthorized possession of ballots.