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Problems with mail-in ballots in New York City are making it harder for officials to ignore President Trump’s repeated criticisms and warnings about using the system for November.
Weeks after the city’s primary on June 23, and after delays in counting an overwhelming number of ballots with congressional races remaining undecided, the Board of Elections came under fire as 25 percent of mail-in ballots cast in Brooklyn were initially disqualified.
A staggering 30,000 out of more than 120,000 absentee ballots filed in the June 23 primary in Kings County were declared invalid, according to the head of the Brooklyn Democratic Party, Rodneyse Bichotte, the New York Post reported.
“Americans should not have to risk their lives to participate in the most fundamental right of democracy,” the state assemblywoman said, noting that the disqualifiers included lack of postmark, missing signatures and even delayed delivery by the U.S. Postal Service.
Late Tuesday, New York Democratic Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney was finally declared the primary winner in the 12th District which includes Manhattan’s East Side as well as parts of Queens and Brooklyn. Her opponent, former aide for President Barack Obama, Suraj Patel, had filed a lawsuit over ballots that had not been properly postmarked when delivered by the June 30 deadline. The lawsuit, filed in July, reportedly alleged that more than 34,000 ballots were sent out by election officials just one day before the primary.
“Put bluntly: A missing postmark, over which voters had no control, should not disenfranchise those voters,” the lawsuit stated.
“A 1-in-5 disenfranchisement rate is far too high for a developed democracy,” Patel said in a statement.
On Monday, a federal judge in Manhattan ruled that at least 1,000 of the absentee ballots without postmarks should be counted after all, according to The New York Times. Judge Analisa Torres of Federal District Court in Manhattan ruled that the approximately 1,200 ballots received a day after the deadline would be counted “without regard to whether such ballots are postmarked by June 23.”
Those received two days after the election deadline on June 25 were also considered valid as long as they were not postmarked later than June 23.
“This is no longer a Democratic or a Republican fight, this is not an establishment versus progressive fight,” Patel said Monday after the judge’s ruling. “This is now a fight for the voting rights of millions in a pandemic.”
“It is regrettable that my former opponent has become President Trump’s mouthpiece in disparaging mail voting by making unsupported claims of many thousands of ballots being invalidated,” Maloney fired back in a statement. “The true facts show a smaller number that had no effect on the results.”
Trump referred to the New York primary as a “total mess” and warning that the “same thing would happen” in November in the general election.
New York Mail-In voting is in a disastrous state of condition. Votes from many weeks ago are missing – a total mess. They have no idea what is going on. Rigged Election. I told you so. Same thing would happen, but on massive scale, with USA. Fake News refuses to report!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 29, 2020
He specifically referred to Maloney’s race when speaking with reporters Tuesday, again raising the alarm about November’s nationwide elections.
#BREAKING: President Trump calls for #NY14 race between Rep. Carolyn Maloney and Suraj Patel to be rerun: “It’s a mess. Nobody knows what’s happening.” pic.twitter.com/55orm3PuD6
— The Hill (@thehill) August 3, 2020
“They’re six weeks into it now,” Trump said during the White House press briefing. “They have no clue what’s going on.”
Even NBC Nightly News seemed to admit that there must be some truth to Trump’s warnings while New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio expressed his “deep concerns” over the Board of Elections, which is made up of 10 commissioners approved by the City Council.
“The Board of Elections can do better and must do better,” he told reporters on Tuesday. “I am certain they can learn from this and be prepared for the general election.”
“Three months is a long time,” he added. “There are whole states in this country that do everything with mail-in [voting] and it works perfectly well.”
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