A federal judge sided with the challenger in a tight New York City Democratic congressional primary and ruled that at least 1,000 disputed ballots should be counted.
The ruling late Monday by Judge Analisa Torres comes six weeks after the June 23 primary for the seat long held by Rep. Carolyn Maloney. It will likely not affect the outcome, since Maloney is leading her closest challenger, Suraj Patel, by some 3,700 votes. But it highlights problems with a race that President Donald Trump suggested Monday should be scrapped and done over again.
“They are six weeks into it now and they have no clue what’s going on, and I think I can say right here and now, you have to rerun that race because it’s a mess,” Trump said at a White House briefing.
Patel, who is challenging Maloney for the Democratic nomination for a district that includes parts of Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens, was among the plaintiffs in the lawsuit that alleged that thousands of ballots that were mailed on time by June 23 were invalidated over postmark issues.
Under Judge Torres’s decision, ballots received on June 24 will be counted regardless of whether they are postmarked by June 23. Patel estimates that about 1,200 ballots are in that category. Ballots that were received by June 25 will also be valid as long as they don’t have a postmark later than June 23.
Aiming to contain the spread of the coronavirus, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered election officials to mail absentee ballots to every qualified voter in the state. More than 400,000 people voted by absentee ballot in New York City, a figure that was 10 times the number of absentee ballots cast in the 2016 primary.
Patel, who has not conceded, said in a statement Monday that the issues in the race “are now bigger than any one candidate or campaign.” Patel said more than 1-in-5 mail-in ballots were invalidated in the race, “a jarring statistic for any developed democracy.”
Maloney said in a statement Tuesday that she welcomed the ruling. “Weeks ago I called for all of these ballots to be counted,” Maloney said. “Although the number involved cannot possibly affect the outcome of my primary election, which I won by a significant margin, I am happy that voters in my district will have their votes counted notwithstanding the Postal Services mistake.”
Defendants in the lawsuit include Cuomo and the state Board of Elections. Messages seeking comment were left with the governor’s office and with the board.