The Jewish Voice Called It Right in the NYC Democratic Primary - The Jewish Voice
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Monday, February 6, 2023

The Jewish Voice Called It Right in the NYC Democratic Primary

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By: Gary Tilzer

New RCV Results Indicate Neck and Neck Mayor’s Race Will End in Court, in Confusion, & in Racial Distrust,  This Story is about the counting 


Since primary day most believed Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams would become mayor.  However, after today’s release of the unofficial RCV numbers Adams has a 51.1% Kathryn Garcia 48.9% after the final RCV round, a gap of 15,908 vote. Garcia who vaulted past Maya Wiley by just 3,806 votes, will narrowly edge out Wiley in the 10th round of the ranked-choice voting — whose votes will be overwhelming for Garcia, figures show. These results are still preliminary, as they only include the votes cast during early voting and on Primary Day — and do not include the 124,000-plus absentee ballots.

The NYC Board of Elections (BOE) release of the preliminary Rank Choice Voting (RCV) raw vote results has caused turned the mayor’s race upside down.


Press Lack of Understand of the Count Could Cause Racial Unrest as Adams Claims Voting Irregularities in the Count

The BOE answered on Twitter: We are aware there is a discrepancy in the unofficial RCV round by round elimination report. We are working with our RCV technical staff to identify where the discrepancy occurred. We ask the public, elected officials and candidates to have patience.

On June 6th, the Jewish Voice (JV) warned many of the elections will be tied up in court for weeks if not months with hand counts and lawyers questing RCV.  We also said the media has done a poor job preparing New Yorkers for how the counting will be conducted and the fact that most of the candidates facing close races will go to count demanding a hand count. Expect Most of the Primary Vote Counting to End in Court, in Confusion, & in Distrust Jewish Voice June 6th.


While the Press Does Not Question Computer Counting, The Losing Candidates and Their Lawyers Will

There is no historical understanding in the press that NYC has a history of not trusting machine or computer counts.

The Jewish Voice wrote the Board of Election (BOE) purchased new software, will cause the mayor’s election (and others) to end up in the courthouse.  We said the press was wrong claiming that machine counting of RCV quickly will end the race. WCBS reported that “New Yorkers can expect to find out who won the city’s upcoming Democratic mayoral primary more quickly than they would have if the New York State Board of Elections hadn’t acted Tuesday to approve software for tabulating ranked-choice voting results.  There is no historical understanding in the press that NYC has a history of not trusting machine or computer counts.


The History of NYC Recent Voting Process: Paper Ballots for Democracy

The electronic voting machine lacked paper ballot backups, which meant their accuracy could not be verified. The most effective challenges were raised by Douglas Kellner, as a member of the City and State Boards of Elections, and Ronnie Dugger, in a long article in the New Yorker magazine.

Kellner argued for a voting system that “people of reasonable intelligence” can monitor. “It really changes the whole nature of democracy if one can’t have the public verify the way the votes are counted,” he said. Moreover, Kellner called it “virtually impossible” to detect and prosecute computer voting fraud “because it takes so long to trace it and the statute of limitations is short.” Dugger’s article quoted a Pennsylvania election official: “Computerized vote-counting doesn’t occur in the light of day; it occurs inside silicon in a little black box. That box is completely under the control of the vendor.”

As Tammany Hall’s Boss Tweed used to say, it is not the voter himself, but he who counts the vote, who controls the outcome of an election. The counting on the Dinkin’s electronic voting machines was supposed to involve pressing buttons or touching a screen next to a candidate’s name. The vote was to be recorded on a tape cartridge. When the polls closed, the cartridge was to be taken to election headquarters, where all tapes were to be read by a computer. Control, in this case, was to be in the hands of the specialists who write the code that translates button or touch impulses into recorded votes.

The Board of Elections withheld the final go-ahead of the Dinkins contract for voting machines. His contract was later canceled, because it became bogged down in litigation over the machines not having a paper backup.

After years of delays and $50 Million of fierce lobbying, the city’s Board of Elections (BOE) signed a contract for over $70 million with Election Systems and Software (ES&S), to provide new electronic voting machines with a paper ballot backup system in time for the September 2010 primary. After the new voting machines were ordered election officials claimed they will quicken the way votes are counted, providing a paper trail backup for each vote, and make lines at the polls move faster.


There Will Be Dozens of Hand Counts Races . . . Is the BOE Prepared?

The big secret of the new (RCV) counting software that there is no way “people of reasonable intelligence” can monitor the tallies. That is the words the Board of Elections’ Commissioner Kellner used in rejecting the Dinkins 2010 voting machines that lacked paper ballot backups system.

So far, the press and everyone else has ignored that not all the RCV counting will not be done by a vendor with an electronic calculation program. But the history of close elections in NY indicates candidates are given the right by the State’s Election Law to go to court to demand a hand recount, most do. This year with the confusing RCV and the high number of candidates, elections, there is expected to be dozens and dozens of requests for hand counts and court orders to do them. Does the BOE have the work force to handle the possible workload of hand counting dozens of races at once? We know the there is no chance the tallies will be done on a timely basis as many reporters claim.


Election Counts in the Past Have Taken Mounts

The winner of the last year race for central New York’s 22nd Congressional District was not declared for three months after the election, when a state judge ruled that Republican Claudia Tenney defeated U.S. Rep. Anthony Brindisi by 109 votes. That ruling came after the judge spent three months recounting the ballots and trying to fix a myriad of problems with vote tabulation. It took seven weeks last year until Queens DA candidate Tiffany Cabán conceded to Melinda Katz last year and that election was not using the complicated RCV system. Cabán who beat Katz on primary day by 1,100 votes, conceded to Katz after falling behind by 60 votes, after counting the absentee ballots and going through a hand recount, but before she exhausted all her legal options. Journalist’s court challenge would reveal uncounted Queens DA primary ballots–Queens Eagle, 10/7/19. In the extremely close Democratic primary for Queens District Attorney, hundreds of affidavit ballots rejected by the Board of Elections could have been a game-changer. Or they could have reinforced the outcome.


RCV Eliminated Run-Offs Where Voters Can Better Choose Candidates After More Debates and Discussions

Good government groups have argued for cost-effective solution to expensive, low turnout election would be a system that allows for instant runoffs like RCV, instead of getting voters to go back to the polls two weeks after the primary for the final bout. What the voters lose under RCV is getting to know candidates better during the runoff’s campaigns and debates.


RCV is Bad for NYC End It Now

If as expected a lot goes wrong during the RCV tallies, expect there will be a public outcry to dump the RCV system. It would be important to examine the role the good government groups played on getting the city and voters to adopt RCV. Susan Lerner, the executive director of Common Cause, pushed for the coming train wreck of the Ranked Choice Voting system. Lerner, who has been in her job for decades, did not try to switch the city’s matching fund program to the “Democracy Vouchers system,” which puts New Yorkers in charge of which candidate gets matching funds, thus reducing the number of candidates running.


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