Democratic challenger to Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, Suraj Patel, has no plans to concede, even as his chances of pulling through in the Democratic primary seem to be diminishing.
Patel. as part of a lawsuit against Governor Andrew Cuomo and the city Board of Elections, was able to see an unknown number of ballots reinstated by a federal judge on Monday night on grounds that the absentees did not have a postmark and were received two days after the June 23 primary.
Despite the need to count these ballots, Maloney argues the number of reinstated ballots do not offer Patel enough of an advantage to close the gap.
“It is regrettable that my former opponent has become President Trump’s mouthpiece in disparaging mail voting by making unsupported claims of many thousands of ballots being invalidated when the true facts show a smaller number that had no effect on the results” Maloney said. “Today’s court decision will put an end to the primary campaign. I call upon Mr. Patel to do as almost every other losing candidate has done: concede that the voters have spoken and stop validating Trump’s undermining our democratic processes.”
While Maloney led Patel by 648 with in-person votes, after a canvas of the absentees by the BOE, the incumbent’s lead grew by up to 3,300. Up to 12,000, or one-fifth of absentees, had been disqualified during the canvas process because of postmark issues or other errors by the voter themselves, the majority of them being from the sections of the district covering Brooklyn and Queens.
According to a spokeswoman for Maloney, she now carries a lead of 3,700 votes and up to 1,200 ballots that were rejected due to lack of a postmark are eligible for reinstatement.
Patel responded to Maloney’s remark likening him and his campaign to President Donald Trump’s rhetoric of doubt against mail-in voting as a false angle on a quest to restore voting rights to those in a district disproportionately impacted by what they view as disenfranchisement.
“When there’s a threat to democracy sitting in the White House, we cannot serve him with a precedent to game this election which is why it was our obligation as New Yorkers, as progressives, as Democrats, to fight to count votes. It ought to be concerning to every single American that one in five or more were tossed in our race,” Patel said. “We have no reason to concede yet because we still have thousands of ballots left to count.”
During a press conference on Tuesday morning to discuss the judge’s injunction to reinstate these ballots, an attorney representing the plaintiffs reiterated how their pursuit differed from President Trump’s view that mail-in voting is an opportunity for voter fraud.
“One of the more interesting and frustrating parts of what’s been going on in the discussion around this lawsuit and our findings is that we started this lawsuit because we believe in people’s right to vote and that voting by mail is the future, it’s the present, we need to make it better,” attorney Ali Najmi said. “President Trump has manipulated what’s going on here for his own purposes to undermine voting by mail.”
Democrat Emily Gallagher was also a plaintiff in the case, though she overtook long-time incumbent, Assemblyman Joe Lentol, for the district covering Greenpoint, Brooklyn in the June 23 primary. Lentol had previously conceded defeat.