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'dangerous and damaging'

Confusion sets in after NYC election board releases vote totals in mayoral primary — then admits discrepancy

Just hours after releasing a new tally of votes in the New York City Democratic mayoral primary, the New York City Board of Elections on Tuesday tweeted it was "aware there is a discrepancy" in the totals and was working with technical staff "to identify where the discrepancy occurred."

The election, held last Tuesday, was New York's first mayoral election using ranked choice voting. Under this system, voters pick up to five candidates in their order of preference. If no one receives more than 50 percent of the vote, ranked choice voting came into play, with the lowest-ranked candidates eliminated and their votes reallocated to the candidates still in the running.

On Election Day, Eric Adams was in the lead with 31.6 percent of the vote, with Maya Wiley in second place and Kathryn Garcia in third. The results released on Tuesday show Adams leading Garcia by 2.2 percentage points, at 51.1 percent to 48.9 percent. The Board of Elections has more than 120,000 absentee ballots to count, and is still accepting them through Tuesday. The final result is not expected until mid-July.

The Board of Elections' latest release counts 940,000 votes, and in response, Adams said in a statement this is "100,000-plus more than the total announced on Election Night, raising serious questions. We have asked the Board of Elections to explain such a massive increase and other irregularities before we comment on the ranked choice voting projection."

Adams had a point, several political journalists agreed.

"Now, it could be that the Election Night counts were wrong and today's count was right," Dave Wasserman of The Cook Political Report tweeted. "Or, the reverse could be true. Or, both were off. No matter what, [New York City Board of Elections] needs to get its act together, fast." He later tweeted that "a lot of people have been blowing the whistle on NY's election administration for years, but this is the most botched election results reporting by an official agency I've ever seen in the U.S."

Reporter Hunter Walker also voiced his frustration on Twitter, saying, "As someone who's spent the better part of this year defending elections systems and encouraging trust, I can't stress how dangerous and damaging it is for an institution like the [New York City Board of Elections] to report incomplete and incorrect figures in a high profile race. Awful."