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NYC Board of Elections throws mayoral primary into chaos by counting test ballots

By Gregory Krieg,
Ethan Cohen and Adam Levy, CNN

(CNN)The campaign to become New York City’s next mayor has come in for another twist.
On Tuesday, the City Board of Elections released new numbers that suggested Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams’ lead in the Democratic primary had narrowed in the first set of tabulated ranked-choice voting results. Former Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia, in this preliminary count, had nearly closed the gap, giving Adams a two-point lead.

But within hours of the new figures coming online, the board backtracked — following questions from the Adams campaign and others — and acknowledged a “discrepancy” in its counting process. It subsequently removed the data from its website. Late Tuesday night, the body put out another statement, this time revealing it had mistakenly included 135,000 test vote records in the initial tally. The count will be re-run once the slate is cleared.

“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,” the BOE said through its Twitter account. “The cast vote record will be re-generated and the RCV rounds will be re-tabulated.”

The mess amounted to a realization of many New Yorkers’ well-founded worries over the board’s capacity to competently manage the ranked-choice system, which is making its citywide debut. The BOE has a rotten reputation in the city and is widely regarded as a hub for political patronage jobs. Tuesday’s count was, in itself, a dry run ahead of the final count, which will not take place for weeks, as absentee ballots are cross-checked and, in some cases, cured if voters respond to notices about minor errors.

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