The New York State Board of Elections certified Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, the incumbent in the 12th Congressional District, as the winner of this year’s Democratic primary—directly after a federal judge required New York State to count thousands of invalidated absentee ballots.
“I’m thrilled the voters of NY-12 have decided to return me to Congress for another term, with a decisive winning margin that clearly reflects the will of the voters,” said Maloney in a press release on Tuesday evening.
A day beforehand, Judge Analisa Torres required New York State to count absentee ballots it had invalidated because they were missing postmarks or were postmarked after the date of the primary. Suraj Patel, Maloney’s opponent in a race that was up in the air after the polls closed on June 23, was one of the plaintiffs who initiated the lawsuit that prompted the judge’s order.
“We have an obligation to shine a light where there is darkness and get to the truth no matter how uncomfortable that truth might be – that is why I haven’t conceded in my Primary,” said Patel in a press release on Monday evening.
Torres ordered the New York State Board of Elections (BOE) to count ballots received up until June 25. On Tuesday afternoon, the BOE indicated to the Queens Eagle that it would appeal Torres’s decision.
“Appealing this decision is an effort to restore order to the process,” said the BOE.
We are fighting for voters who were disenfranchised through no fault of their own.
Their voices deserve to be heard and a Federal Court agreed, but rather than simply count the votes, the State appealed the ruling.
We intend to see this fight through on behalf of Democracy. https://t.co/HGSUl6V62q
— Suraj Patel #CountEveryVote (@surajpatelnyc) August 5, 2020
Regardless of whether the decision remains unchallenged, Torres’s current order to count invalidated absentee ballots would likely not affect the outcome of the June primary for Patel. Maloney leads by approximately 3,700 votes, and even if all previously invalidated absentee ballots went Patel’s way, it wouldn’t, according to The New York Times, affect the result of the election. (The BOE’s certification doesn’t include the invalidated absentee ballots in its count.)
However, Judge Torres left open the possibility of ordering the state to count more ballots, if candidates can prove that these votes would sway their race, explained Patel’s attorney Remy Green in a press conference Tuesday morning.
Ballots lacking a postmark will be counted. pic.twitter.com/KCEOwaCA3g
remy green, making trouble (@j_remy_green) August 4, 2020
In mid-July, The Intercept reported that approximately 20% of absentee ballots in the 12th Congressional District could be thrown out for a variety of reasons, which include lack of a postmark or a missing signature. Voters returned close to 66,000 absentee ballots to the BOE in the district. Therefore, the BOE invalidated approximately 12,000 of them. Patel still has a fighting—while unlikely—chance to overtake Maloney.
Maloney lauded the Judge Torres’s decision, but called upon Patel to concede in a press release Tuesday morning.
“I call upon Mr. Patel to do as almost every other losing candidate has done: concede that the voters have spoken,” said Maloney.
Patel, though, hasn’t given up hope.
“As Americans, we fundamentally believe in the right to vote, and the right to have those votes counted,” he said in a statement. “We are obligated to not just celebrate our systems of democracy when they work, but to fight to improve and strengthen them when they do not.”