The Longest Primary Night

Counting of absentee ballots begins this week as tensions flare

| 29 Jun 2020 | 01:50

New York’s primary election took place one week ago but the results likely won’t be known until July, exacerbating tensions between candidates in close races.

This year, New York received an unprecedented number of absentee ballots as thousands of voters elected to vote by mail rather than their local precinct amid the coronavirus pandemic. All of those absentee ballots have yet to be counted, and are not expected to be counted until Wednesday of this week.

The delayed process has left candidates in tight races hanging, most notably in New York’s 12th Congressional District. Rep. Carolyn Maloney is holding onto a lead of just 648 votes over challenger Suraj Patel after the initial count on Tuesday night, according to the Associated Press. There are about 31,000 absentee ballots yet to be tabulated, with 23,000 coming from Manhattan, 6,400 from Queens and 1,300 from Brooklyn.

Pundits believe the breakdown of ballots looks good for Maloney, who performs well on the Upper East Side, whereas Patel did better in Queens and Brooklyn.

But Patel has accused Maloney of voter suppression, saying the 14-term congresswoman planned to “challenge every ballot” during an interview on MSNBC over the weekend.

“We’re prepared to fight to the last tooth and nail to get every single vote counted,” Patel said during an interview with journalist Alex Witt. “Voter suppression is a real thing. And it’s not just real in Republican states. It’s also real in the Democratic Party.”

In return, Maloney compared Patel’s rhetoric and tactics to that of President Trump.

“Today, one of my opponents made an outrageous and baseless accusation of voter suppression before a single absentee ballot has even been counted,” Maloney said in a statement, adding that the accusation jeopardizes both her integrity and the integrity of electoral system, and comes “straight out of Donald Trump’s playbook.”

“This is a serious charge and a cynical abuse of voter confidence, and I will not stand for it,” she said.

Claiming Victory

While Maloney’s fate hangs in the air, another longtime Manhattan member of Congress seems to be cruising to a 16th term in the House. Rep. Jerry Nadler, who represents New York’s 10th Congressional District, is leading both of his challengers with 62 percent of the vote, according to the Associated Press. After the initial count, Nadler tallied 19,411 votes to opponents Lindsay Boylan’s 7,886 votes and Jonathan Herzog’s 3,923 votes.

Nadler claimed victory on election night, but on Twitter, Boylan, who used to spearhead the state’s economic development program, called the congressman’s proclamation premature, noting that 87,000 absentee ballots from the district had yet to be tabulated. Of those, 76,000 come from Manhattan and 11,000 from Brooklyn.

“I don’t want to gloss over this question: who is served by your premature declaration of victory, @RepJerryNadler when most of your constituents votes have not been counted?” she wrote on Twitter.

Incumbents in the state legislature so far have been holding leads over their primary challengers, with a couple of tight races across the board.

One of the most dramatic and litigious matchups of the primary season has been between incumbent Assembly Member Dan Quart and political newcomer Cameron Koffman. The two waged a months-long court battle over the validity of Koffman’s candidacy, which was questioned after it was revealed that Koffman had been casting votes in Connecticut during his time studying at Yale University. The court ultimately sided with Koffman, which cemented his place on the Democratic primary ballot for the 73rd Assembly district. With absentee ballots yet to be counted, Quart is leading Koffman 2,673 votes to 1,757, according to the Associated Press.

In other Assembly primary races, incumbent Robert Rodriguez, who represents the 68th district that covers parts of the Upper East Side and Harlem, has a slight lead over challenger Tamika Mapp. Rodriguez has earned 4,681 votes to Mapp’s 3,519 votes. Downtown in the 65th Assembly district, Yuh-line Niou holds a comfortable margin over challenger Grace Lee with 4,440 votes to 2,741 votes.

Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright’s seat in the 76th District is also up for re-election, but she did not appear on any primary ballot. A paperwork error is preventing Seawright from running as a Democrat, and she plans to make a bid as an Independent in November. If she doesn’t make it onto the ballot, Republican candidate Lou Puliafito will have an uncontested claim to the seat.

In the state Senate, the incumbents are holding strong leads over their opponents. In the 27th district, which covers Chelsea and parts of Midtown, Brad Holyman leads Elizabeth Glass 11,914 to 6,210 votes, according to the AP. In the 31st district, Robert Jackson holds 77 percent of vote, leading Tirso Pino 13,144 votes to 3,909 votes.

The Board of Elections will begin counting absentee ballots on Wednesday.

“We’re prepared to fight to the last tooth and nail to get every single vote counted ... Voter suppression is a real thing.” Suraj Patel
“Today, one of my opponents made an outrageous and baseless accusation of voter suppression before a single absentee ballot has even been counted.” Rep. Carolyn Maloney