Candidates object to almost 20% of ballots invalidated in Maloney’s district due to late postmark

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Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (l.) and her Democratic primary challenger Suraj Patel. (Photos by Mark Hallum)

Documents regarding invalidated absentee ballots by the city Board of Elections show that up to 19% of those submitted by voters were summarily tossed aside due to late postmarks and lack of a signature in the 12th Congressional district.

Suraj Patel, making his second run against Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, says that while this is not inconsistent with other districts throughout the city, it does represent poor communications between voters and the government.

The state of New York mandated that in order for a ballot to be accepted, it would need to be postmarked for the June 23 primary, but both candidates agree that there should be some form of leniency on account of postmarks possibly being stamped late or not reflecting when the ballot was mailed in.

“The difference between 20% and 30% in Brooklyn versus Queens and Manhattan can be explained by the fact that a lot of ballots in Brooklyn are missing postmarks. And those ballots, a lot of the ones that arrived on the 24th to the Board of Elections are currently invalid because they lack a postmark and they arrived on the 24th,” Patel said. “Our argument is, clearly if they arrived at the board on the 24th they mailed before the 23rd and they should be counted.”

Out of the 65,650 ballots mailed back to the BOE, 13,054 were deemed invalid while 52,054 were counted toward the candidate of their choice. Maloney’s district came as no mean feat to count for the BOE as it covers Manhattan and parts of the other two boroughs, and added together the percentage of those discarded amount to 19%.

A common feature leading up to the unprecedented June 23 primary was elected officials, news organizations and the BOE tweeting that in order to have a vote counted, the post office must postmark the ballot for the 23rd.

“Registered voters went to great lengths to participate in this primary, and a missing postmark, over which they had no control, should not stop those votes from being counted,” a spokesperson for Maloney said.

Maloney has established a name for herself over the course of decades in her district spanning from Eighth Avenue in the west to the boundary of Maspeth, Queens and from Randall’s Island to the Lower East Side. This is Maloney’s second time attempting to fend off Patel who ran against her in 2018 and came away with 40% of the vote.

This time around has proven to be a much closer competition for the seat.

Early in-person votes counted in the final days of June showed that Maloney held just 648 vote lead over Patel, something that could be overturned by additional ballots cast on election day as well as the 52,054 mail-ins that remain valid.

Correction note: an earlier version of this story, based on a mathematical error, stated that 25% of ballots had been rejected at this point in the canvas. Upon further examination, we found this percentage to be just over 19%. We regret the error.