The three leading Democrats in the race to be New York City mayor have demanded a manual recount of primary votes if the results are razor thin, days after election officials admitted they’d accidentally added 135,000 test ballots to the initial total.
The manual count would be a first for the city in modern history, and comes as frontrunner Eric Adams maintains a narrow margin over rivals Kathryn Garcia and Maya Wiley.
Adams, Garcia and Wiley have all filed petitions in court to give them the option of challenging the result, the New York Post reports.
‘It is without precedent in a New York City mayoral race or any citywide office,’ election lawyer Stanley Schlein, who represents Garcia, told the Post.
A manual recount would take weeks to complete and cost millions of dollars.
Corrected figures released Wednesday showed Adams, a former NYPD captain, was just 14,755 votes ahead of his closest rival, former Sanitation Commissioner Garcia, in the primary run-off.
Those numbers also put left-wing candidate Wiley back in the running, after they showed that she sat just 347 votes behind Garcia.
Brooklyn Borough President and mayoral candidate Eric Adams holds a narrow lead
The city’s new ranked choice poll lets voters list their candidates by order of preference, and allows some candidates to pick up votes from voters whose first choices get eliminated for lack of support.
PIX11 reported that Garcia is in a better position than Wiley was after picking up votes from former favorite Andrew Yang, who has since withdrawn from the campaign.
Almost 125,000 absentee ballots have yet to be counted, meaning that Garcia or Wiley could both catch up with Adams. Those ballots will be counted from July 6, with the final primary result likely to be weeks away.
The largest chunk of those uncounted votes – around 39,000 – come from Manhattan, where Adams finished third on the first ballot behind Garcia and Wiley, potentially spelling further trouble for his campaign.
State law triggers a manual recount if the difference between the candidates is less than 0.5 percent of the votes cast – around 4,500 in the primary.
‘We’re talking about possibly an even smaller margin than half of one percent, Wiley’s lawyer Daniel Bright told the Post.
Maya Wiley believes she can overcome Adams’ lead in the NYC Mayoral race
Kathryn Garcia has joined calls for a recount if the results are close
There has not been a manual recount in the NYC mayoral race in recent times, but there was a hand re-canvass in a 1917 Republican primary, the Post reports.
Adams’ campaign insisted Wednesday that he still had a ‘significant lead’ over his rivals.
‘We are confident we will be the final choice of New Yorkers when every vote is tallied,’ the campaign added.
The ex-NYPD cop has run a markedly less progressive campaign than his rivals. He opposes defunding the police, and wants to bring back the controversial ‘stop and frisk’ policy.
By contrast, Wiley wants to slash $1 billion from the NYPD budget, and Garcia wants to raise the minimum age people can become a cop from 21 to 25.
Garcia, the city’s former sanitation commissioner, said she, too, remained ‘confident in our path to victory’ but wasn’t taking it for granted. Wiley, meanwhile, called the race ‘still wide open.’
‘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 tweeted.
The Board of Elections apologized for Tuesday’s mistake, which involved the accidental inclusion of 135,000 test ballot images in the vote totals.
The board insisted the new counts were accurate and said it was now doing more checks and reviews before releasing more data.
They have not indicated any plans to re-run the primary run-off, although the error will likely result in lawsuits should the final result be close.
‘We will do so with a heightened sense that we must regain the trust of New Yorkers,’ board President Frederic Umane and Secretary Miguelina Camilo said in a statement.
Still, critics said the mishap proved that the board was not equipped to handle the new ranked choice system.
Mayor Bill de Blasio called for ‘a complete structural rebuild’ of the board, which operates independently of his office. The City Council´s black, Latino and Asian Caucus – whose leaders favor putting a repeal of ranked choice voting on the November ballot – noted that its members had warned that the city wasn’t ready for the new system.