Stop me if you heard this one before — county election officials using a completely new and complicated vote-counting process, reliant on computer transmitted and tabulated ballot images, discovered AFTER ANNOUNCING VOTE TOTALS that there was a 135,000 vote “over-count.” Except for this time, the two politicians engaged in a battle over the accuracy of the vote total were both Democrats. In this case, the county officials decided they needed to get to the bottom of the problem rather than simply declare their election process was error-free, the numbers were accurate, and any suggestion to the contrary was an attack on democracy. When they looked more closely they realized someone forgot to push the “Reset” button after the test run of the system and some “votes” had been counted for “voters” who didn’t exist. Oops.
I’ll try to simplify the facts so we can turn to the real story that comes out of this fiasco.
For the first time ever, New York City elections used a “Ranked Choice Voting” system in primary elections held on Tuesday of last week. The big race on the ballot was the Democrat Party primary for Mayor. There were 14 candidates on the ballot, with four main players — Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, DeBlasio Administration Official Kathryn Garcia, AOC-endorsed Maya Wiley, and failed Democrat Presidential candidate Andrew Wang.
The “Ranked Choice Voting” system gave each voter the chance to list five selections for mayor in their order of preference. On election night, the vote totals announced were based on voters’ “First Choice” selections. When those totals were announced, the leader was Eric Adams with approximately 32% of the vote. In second place, was Garcia, with approximately 22% of the vote. Wiley was third, very close to Garcia, and Yang was fourth at approximately 12%.
The “Ranked Choice Voting” process then kicked in. The “First Choice” votes for the last-place finisher were canceled, and if those voters had selected a “Second Choice” on their ballot, their votes were added to whoever that second choice candidate was. The last place finisher had relatively few votes, so there were not that many to redistribute. After the Round Two voting was concluded, the next candidate in last place had his/her votes canceled. If those voters had listed a “Second Choice,” those votes were shifted to the total of that candidate, and the totals for all the candidates were then calculated again — now with two candidates having been removed.
That process of eliminating the last-place candidate in each round and redistributing votes as indicated by the voter on the ballot continued on for 10 rounds. As candidates with more votes met with elimination because they were last, how those votes were apportioned to the remaining candidates based on “Second,” “Third,” “Fourth,” and “Fifth” ranked choices held the potential for more volatility. In fact, in the days leading up to the election, Adams — who is black — leveled charges of “racism” against Garcia and Yang based on an allegation that Yang made a deal with Garcia to urge his voters to list Garcia as their “Second Choice.” Yang ended up finishing fourth with 12%, so when he was eliminated his 12% of the vote was distributed to the three remaining candidates. If most or all those votes went to a single candidate that would have a substantial impact on the ultimate outcome of the race.
As covered on Tuesday here at RedState, when NYC announced the end of the “Ranked Choice Voting” process today after 10 rounds, Adams still lead and Garcia was still second, but the margin between them had shrunk from 11% on election day and the First Choice count, to only 2.2% after all the other candidates were eliminated. Adams had gone from 32% to 51%, but Garcia had gone from 22% to 49%.
Or so it seemed.
After the totals were announced, someone made the following observation:
“Why are there more than 100,000 more votes in the aggregate total today than were reported last week when the First Choice totals were announced?
There were less than 1 million votes cast on election day, so having 100,000 more in the “Total Vote” column a week after election day is something that someone maybe should have noticed.
NYC election officials scratched their collective chins and said “We’ll get back to you.”
At approximately 10:00 pm ET, the NYC election office sent out a video message:
Supposedly, a “test” of the election software had been conducted involving approximately 135,000 simulated votes for the various candidates on the ballot. The Ranked Choice Voting process was undertaken as part of the test in the same fashion as would have happened after voting. When that same computer equipment and software was put to use on voting day, no one purged the system of the 135,000 test votes from the simulation. When the Ranked Choice Voting elimination process began the day after election day, the vote totals at the start included both the actual votes cast on election day as well as the 135,000 votes still in the tabulation software from the test.
All through the ten rounds of elimination, that super-duper validation process that ensures accuracy of the outcome never noticed that vote totals being aggregated were 15% higher than the vote totals reported on election night.
I guess no one was assigned the “Make sure the number on this line is the same as the number on that line” responsibility in the Elections Office.
And this brings me back to the headline. New York City — for a week — has been counting 135,000 “ballots” as part of the tabulation process that were never cast. No one noticed.
Yet the Democrats and the media claim that GOP efforts to make state election officials “check your work” in November were an assault on democracy when a combined total of 42,500 votes in three states determined the outcome of the election. Those states were using radically different election processes involving millions of mailed-in ballots for the first time, and in some instances using voting machines and software that had never been used before.
I have written before, and I intend to return to this subject again, that the “election contest” procedures that exist under the law in each of the states are so varied and inconsistent that there is no functional way to carry out a meaningful legal challenge to the election outcome, given the running of the clock to the final day for state certification of electors, and the meeting of the Electoral College, both of which are set by statute. The “election contest” provisions in every state are designed to work in situations where the office can remain open while the election dispute process plays itself out in a courtroom or other venue as directed by state law. That is not possible in a Presidential Election. The inauguration day arrives on January 20 every four years. All state matters concerning the election must be wrapped up well ahead of that date, whether that limited calendar affords a meaningful review or not under the state’s laws.
This reality ENCOURAGES election fraud — the risk of being caught is almost zero because the process for uncovering fraud is unsuited to the task within the time available. Once the election outcome is “certified” there is no going back — fraud or no fraud. The goal of victory is accomplished, and the price paid was simply the need to engage in obstructionist conduct in the post-election litigation.
It took NYC a week to recognize a blatant and obvious idiotic error — and it only did so after it was pointed out by one of the candidates and the media.
Now consider, on the other hand, how long it would take to unearth a well-planned and well-concealed exercise to artificially increase the vote totals of one candidate with the cooperation of political allies in a municipal government’s election office.
The system is broken.
Simple as that.