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The New York City Board Of Elections Sees A 'Discrepancy' In The Mayoral Vote Tally

NOEL KING, HOST:

The New York City Board of Elections says there was a, quote, "discrepancy" in its latest vote tally in New York's Democratic mayoral primary. The board says it will be recounting votes. Brigid Bergin is following this story from member station WNYC. Good morning, Brigid.

BRIGID BERGIN, BYLINE: Good morning.

KING: What is this discrepancy?

BERGIN: Well, there are about 135,000 votes that were erroneously included in this first ranked-choice tally that was released yesterday. That tally did show that the race was tightening, and Eric Adams, the Brooklyn borough president, former NYPD officer, saw his lead shrink from nine points down to two. But ultimately, it's all moot because they need to redo this tally with the correct vote input. They had left some votes that were used in some pre-election testing still in the system, and that's what led to this erroneous tally.

KING: OK. So there's 135,000 test votes hanging out in there that were not actually voters' votes. How did that happen? Do you know?

BERGIN: You know, at this point, it really seems like an issue of human error. The board does conduct a lot of pre-election testing to make sure their systems are working. And obviously, that was even more important this time because it was the first time they were using new ranked-choice voting, this new ranked-choice voting system and tabulation software. Late last night, they issued a statement that basically said they neglected to reset their tabulation systems, and that meant also clearing the data file that they used for the ranked-choice tally. So some of those practice votes were included in these unofficial results.

KING: To be clear, though, this count last night was not supposed to be the final count, right?

BERGIN: That's absolutely right, Noel. So we're going to get an update today reflecting the ranked tally we were supposed to get yesterday, and, again, that's just the in-person votes that came in on primary day and during early voting. That still will not include 124,000 absentee ballots. Those won't begin to be included until the next tally, which is expected next week on Tuesday.

KING: OK, so there's a lot of time. New York politics can get pretty wild. Do you think, ultimately, this is going to undermine the integrity of this vote?

BERGIN: I don't necessarily think it undermines the integrity of the vote, but it does diminish the board of elections' standing in the eyes of voters. And unfortunately, this isn't the first time this has happened. You know, this agency is really the last bastion of true patronage politics in New York. There's been a push to overhaul the agency to give the staff more authority over political appointees, but, you know, ultimately, that's all up to state lawmakers to do. They would be the ones that could overhaul the agency either through state law or state constitutional changes.

KING: And this ranked-choice voting system is new. Basically, people pick their first choice and their second choice. Some people going into this really did not like that. Does this give them ammunition to say, we told you this was going to happen?

BERGIN: I definitely think there's going to be a lot of people pointing at ranked-choice voting as the culprit in this situation. But unfortunately, you know, what we know so far is that it's likely some administration issues, and those issues are much more closely tied to problems with the staffing and professionally - the professionalization of this agency.

KING: OK. Brigid Bergin of member station WNYC. Thanks for your time, Brigid. We appreciate it.

BERGIN: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.