NEW YORK — After a tense day, the notoriously dysfunctional Board of Elections issued new results Wednesday evening that determined pretty much nothing had changed in the race to replace outgoing Mayor Bill de Blasio — despite “a human error that could have been avoided” in the outcome released a day earlier.
Only 14,755 votes now separate Kathryn Garcia from first-place finisher Eric Adams — a 2.2-percent margin in a race that will be determined by 125,000 absentee ballots the board plans to count next week.
Despite the initial count of some 135,000 dummy ballots, the new split in the Democratic primary mirrored the outcome Tuesday. The board at first tallied 11 rounds of ranked-choice voting results. In the subsequent count — conducted after the error called into question the board’s reliability — Adams won after nine rounds, and Garcia defeated Maya Wiley by just 347 votes.
Wiley — a former City Hall attorney who consolidated progressive support in the final weeks of her campaign — was leading Garcia until the eighth round. But when Andrew Yang was eliminated, more of his support was reallocated to Garcia — an indication that their 11th-hour alliance helped the city’s former sanitation commissioner.
Yang — the one-time presidential contender who led the polls for much of the race — finished in fourth place. By the seventh round of tabulations, he had garnered nearly 14 percent of the vote with 111,239 ballots in his favor. Much of that support was split between Garcia and Adams.
Wiley immediately issued a statement Wednesday evening calling the race “wide open” given the absentees.
“That’s why following yesterday’s embarrassing debacle, the Board of Elections must count every vote in an open way so that New Yorkers can have confidence that their votes are being counted accurately,” she said.
Adams — who, along with his surrogates, warned the alliance between Yang and Garcia might disenfranchise his predominantly Black and Latino base — filed a preemptive lawsuit on Wednesday to reserve his right to review ballots if he deems it necessary. Garcia did the same.
She also expressed concern that the snafu would “undermine people’s confidence” in the electoral process during an interview on CNN.
In a statement, Adams’ campaign boasted of leading “by a significant margin because we put together a five-borough working class coalition of New Yorkers to make our city a safer, fairer, more affordable place.”
Meanwhile the board — which was castigated throughout the day by politicians and candidates, some of whom have done nothing to professionalize the operation — issued an apology for the error.
“Yesterday’s ranked-choice voting reporting error was unacceptable and we apologize to the voters and to the campaigns for the confusion,” the board wrote. “Let us be clear: RCV was not the problem, rather a human error that could have been avoided. We have implemented another layer of review and quality control before publishing information going forward.”
The system, being used for the first time, allows voters to select up to five candidates, in order of preference. If no one gets a majority, the last-place candidate is removed from the count and their ballots are reassigned to the voter’s second choice. That process of elimination continues until someone tops 50 percent.