At the end of election night, Tiffany led by 1,090 votes. Tiffany then extended her lead to 1,130 votes after the final tally from the voting machines was calculated.
Last Wednesday, the Board of Elections reviewed approximately 3,500 absentee ballots and 2,800 affidavit ballots, all of which are paper ballots. The BOE counted only 487 of the affidavit ballots, while ruling that the rest of the affidavit ballots are invalid. At the end of Wednesday, Tiffany trailed by 20 votes.
Our campaign is making every effort to ensure that improperly invalidated ballots are restored. On Friday, the BOE restored six of the invalidated ballots. Five of these ballots were cast for Tiffany, and one was cast for Melinda Katz, reducing the margin to 16 votes.
This is just the beginning. Our campaign has identified 114 additional ballots that were improperly invalidated, and the validity of those votes will be determined in court. As our campaign continues to examine the invalidated ballots, we expect to identify additional ballots for further review.
We expect that if all valid and legitimate ballots are ultimately counted, we will win the election.
There has been no evidence of fraudulent activity by the BOE.
However, our campaign believes that a significant number of ballots were improperly invalidated. For example, many ballots were discounted because the voter failed to affirm their party affiliation on the ballot, but it is in fact the responsibility of the poll worker to ensure that the party affiliation is included, rather than the voter.
We have successfully restored six invalidated ballots thus far, and identified 114 additional ballots that were wrongly invalidated because the voter’s party affiliation was not listed. However, while the BOE has acknowledged that these votes should be counted, and press reports indicate the Katz campaign agrees, they have instructed our campaign to decide their validity in court. There are countless conflicts of interest within the BOE and our local courts, and undue influence must not prevent these valid affidavit ballots from counting.
We are still early in the review process and there will be additional invalidated votes identified for further review. It is unclear at this stage how many votes will ultimately come before the court. It is critical that all improperly invalidated ballots, belonging to legitimate and valid voters, are restored.
Since the margin is separated by less than .5% city law mandates that a manual hand recount take place.
This hand recount will begin on Tuesday. We believe that as many as 359 additional votes, across all candidates, will be identified during the hand recount. This is because the voting machines can fail to pick up valid votes. For example, if a voter circled their choices rather than filled them in, the scantron machines may have failed to register their selection – but their selection will be recognized in the recount.
It is unknown how many of these votes will be captured by each candidate, and their results could shift the outcome of the election.
We are engaged with the BOE and all parties to ensure that the final vote count is correctly tallied and that all valid ballots are included. Our campaign’s attorneys will appear in court to argue in favor of restoring discounted ballots that we believe to be valid.
There is also pending legislation that would modernize New York’s voting laws to remove certain barriers to the eligibility of affidavit ballots. This legislation has already passed the Senate and the Assembly, and only needs to be sent by the Assembly to the Governor for his signature. While the state legislative session is over, the bill could still be implemented immediately with Governor Cuomo’s signature – but first, Assembly Speaker Heastie must send the bill to his desk.
If Assembly Speaker Heastie sends the legislation to Gov. Cuomo for his signature, and the Governor signs it, the bill cwould allow more of the disputed affidavit ballots to be counted. The bill would also serve as an important victory for New Yorkers’ voting rights moving forward.