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Carolyn Maloney prevails in primary after weeks of vote counting

Results certified six weeks after New York's primary

New York Democratic Rep. Carolyn Maloney's primary was in limbo as absentee ballots were counted.
New York Democratic Rep. Carolyn Maloney's primary was in limbo as absentee ballots were counted. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

New York Democratic Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney has won her primary after six weeks of vote counting in the 12th District.

New York City Board of Elections spokeswoman Valerie Vazquez confirmed Tuesday night that the board certified Maloney as the primary winner. The board also certified that New York City Councilmember Ritchie Torres won the Democratic primary in the open 15th District.

Maloney led Suraj Patel, a former hotel executive and ex-campaign aide for President Barack Obama, by 3,700 votes when the results were certified on Tuesday, according to Maloney’s campaign.

“This has been a historic election, with historic turnout and participation — and a historic wait time for results,” Maloney said in a statement. “We’ve learned many lessons for November, and must take a number of actions to protect the safety of our vote in the general election.” 

Maloney was one of several Democratic incumbents in New York City facing challenges from their own party. Patel also ran unsuccessfully against Maloney in 2018, but she defeated him by more than 8,600 votes.

First elected to Congress in 1992, Maloney represents a district that includes the East Side of Manhattan and parts of Queens and Brooklyn. She currently chairs the House Oversight and Reform Committee.

Maloney’s primary was in limbo for six weeks due to a surge in absentee ballots cast in the June 23 primary because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The primary has been mired in a legal fight over invalid absentee ballots, which had to be delivered to election officials by June 30. Patel filed a lawsuit to count ballots that arrived by the deadline but were not properly postmarked. According to the Washington Post, the U.S. Postal Service may not have postmarked the pre-paid ballot return envelopes that were used due to Democratic Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s executive order in response to the pandemic. New Yorkers typically have to provide their own postage, which is postmarked.

On Monday, a federal judge ruled that some absentee ballots without postmarks but received two days after the primary should be counted, according to CNN. Those additional ballots were not included in the results certified Tuesday, Vazquez confirmed.

The weeks of vote counting does provide a warning for the general election in November, which could also see a surge in absentee voting as the novel coronavirus continues to spread.

President Donald Trump began highlighting the New York primary as an example of the problems with mail-in ballots.

“I think you have to do that election over.  That election is no good. You have to take a look,” the president told reporters at the White House Tuesday. “In New York, they have thousands of ballots. They don’t know what happened to them. Is there fraud?  Is there — it’s a disaster. And that’s only for a relatively small number of ballots. But I think they have to do the election in New York over.”

Niels Lesniewski contributed to this report.

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