Some Lawmakers Say Ranked Choice Voting Needs To Go, But Supporters Of System Say Human Error Caused Tuesday's FiascoBy Marcia Kramer

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — There is more fallout from the massive mistake made by the city’s Board of Elections in tabulating ranked choice voting results in the Democratic mayoral primary.

Eric Adams wants a judge to oversee the vote count and preserve the integrity of the ballots, while the BOE is trying to save face after a gaffe that one political pundit called a “train wreck,” CBS2’s Marcia Kramer reported.

READ MORENYC Mayoral Race: Board Of Elections Says Test Ballots Were Counted With Actual Ballots As Part Of Ranked Choice Voting

Maybe the second time’s the charm. The problem-plagued BOE released a new set of preliminary ranked choice voting numbers on Wednesday evening. They show the same thing as Tuesday — Adams with 51.1%, followed by Kathryn Garcia with 48.9% after nine rounds.

However, it’s still a horse race because in the eighth round Maya Wiley and Garcia were neck and neck — Wiley with 29.5% and Garcia with 29.6%.

Adams put out a statement saying his campaign believes the 131,000 absentee ballots favor his candidacy, while Wiley claimed in a statement the election is “wide open.”

The BOE insisted the new figures are based on the 800,000 votes cast on Election Day and during early voting and absolutely did not include the 135,000 test ballots originally added in with the actual ballots and announced Tuesday.

But Adams is taking no chances. He filed suit asking a judge to oversee the tabulation.

“To ensure a fair and transparent election process,” he said.

Adams also wants the ballots counted by hand. Garcia told Kramer her campaign will file a similar suit.

“It’s very likely that we will go ahead and make sure that we are protecting all the votes and protecting the canvasing because we want to ensure that at the end of the day that every vote gets counted,” Garcia said.

READ MOREExplanation Of How Ranked Choice Voting Works

In the comptroller’s race, Brooklyn Councilman Brad Lander had 51.1% and Council Speaker Corey Johnson had 48.9%, but, again, absentee ballots are still to be counted.

The chaos caused by the latest misstep by the historically inept agency had Queens Councilman I. Daneek Miller calling for a November referendum giving voters the right to decide whether ranked choice voting and the BOE’s ability to handle such a complex system is really right for New York City.

“What’s happening now is really undermining the confidence and the integrity in our system and our democracy,” Miller said.

“You want them to have an opportunity to dump ranked choice voting?” Kramer asked.

“Yes … we want to do it now while it’s fresh in peoples’ minds and not in 2022 and other times … we have short memories,” Miller said.

READ MOREPoll Finds New Yorkers ‘Overwhelmingly’ Support Ranked Choice Voting

Supporters of ranked choice voting argue that the election chaos was caused by human error, not the new voting system. However, this just the latest in a series of mistakes by the problem-plagued agency.

During the 2020 presidential contest the BOE disqualified 80,000 ballots because officials were not prepared to handle the deluge of mail-in votes cast during the pandemic.

Voters in the 2018 midterm elections had to wait hours to cast ballots because high humidity jammed the scanners.

David Birdsell, the dean of Baruch College, said it may be hard for the BOE to recover its credibility.

“A total train wreck. A mind-boggling error that defies explanation,” Birdsell said.

Meanwhile, state Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins called the BOE a “national embarrassment” and vowed to pass reform legislation.

Editor’s note: This story was originally published on Wednesday, June 30.

Marcia Kramer