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New York elections board says mayoral vote 'discrepancy' was 135,000 extra 'dummy' ballots, starts count over

New York City's first mayoral election using ranked-choice voting is not going well. The city Board of Elections released an unofficial count of ranked in-person Democratic primary votes on Tuesday, then acknowledged there was a "discrepancy" in the numbers. At 10:30 p.m., the board explained that this "discrepancy" was 135,000 "dummy" ballots that should not have been counted. The elections board pulled the results and said new results will be available "starting on June 30."

The first round of ranked-choice tabulation "included both test and election night results, producing approximately 135,000 additional records," the Board of Elections said in a statement. "Board staff has removed all test ballot images from the system and will upload election night results, cross-referencing against election night reporting software for verification," and the results "will be re-tabulated." The board won't start counting the 124,000 Democratic absentee ballots from last week's election until next week.

Eric Adams, the winner of the unranked votes, had flagged the jump in vote totals from election night to Tuesday's ranked-choice results. After the Board of Elections explained the mistake, he called it "unfortunate" but added that "we appreciate the board's transparency and acknowledgment of their error. We look forward to the release of an accurate, updated simulation, and the timely conclusion of this critical process."

The Board of Elections "has long been plagued by dysfunction and nepotism," and "skeptics had expressed doubts about the board's ability to pull off the [ranked-choice] process despite its successful use in other cities," The New York Times reports. It is completely unclear how the withdrawal of the dummy ballots and inclusion of the absentee ballots will affect the final results, which are not expected until mid-July. The winner of the Democratic primary is expected to beat Republican mayoral nominee Curtis Sliwa in the heavily Democratic city.