Aug. 4, 2020 By Allie Griffin
A federal judge ordered New York election officials on Monday to count thousands of absentee ballots that were previously invalidated for a missing postmark — including in a local Congressional race that grabbed President Donald Trump’s attention.
Judge Analisa Torres in Manhattan ruled to reinstate mail-in votes that were not postmarked — despite being sent in on time — as well as votes that were mailed by primary election day on June 23 and received by June 25.
The decision will add roughly 1,200 previously tossed votes in the 12th Congressional race between incumbent Carolyn Maloney and her challenger Suraj Patel — a co-plaintiff in the case.
The soon-to-be added votes, however, are not enough to push Patel ahead of Maloney’s reported 3,700 lead. Yet, the insurgent has refused to concede in the primary race to represent the district, which spans Astoria and Long Island City, as well as the east side of Manhattan and Greenpoint, Brooklyn.
Patel’s campaign said about 12,500 voters in total were clearly disenfranchised based on technicalities. He indicated he can pursue further injunctive relief, according to NY1.
He and his co-plaintiffs, who include 50th Assembly District primary winner Emily Gallagher and 12 voters, had asked the court to ensure every ballot received by June 30 to be counted.
President Trump used Maloney’s race as an example of what he calls a failure of mail-in ballots — a topic he has continuously critiqued, often without evidence.
He called the race “a disaster” and said it should be rerun because of the long delay counting absentee ballots.
“They’re six weeks into it now. They have no clue what’s going on,” Trump said Monday. “I think I can say right here and now I think you have to rerun that race because it’s a mess.”
Maloney — who has represented the 12th Congressional District since 2013 — used Trump’s comments on the race to attack her opponent.
“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,” she said in a statement.
The Congresswoman applauded the court’s decision to count the invalidate ballots, but said the number of votes that are now back on the table is not enough to affect her self-declared victory.
“Although the number involved cannot possibly affect the outcome of my primary election, which I won by a significant margin, I am happy that voters in my district will have their votes counted notwithstanding the Postal Services mistake,” she said.
She urged Patel to concede in the race now that the court case has been decided.
“Today’s court decision will put an end to the primary campaign,” Maloney said yesterday. “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.”
However, Patel said he hasn’t conceded in order to shine a light on “systemic voter disenfranchisement” that was strife in his race.
“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, because the issues uncovered in our NY-12 election are now bigger than any one candidate or campaign,” he said in a statement.
Patel, an attorney and an adjunct professor at NYU, condemned Trump’s statements and said they were untrue.
“We’ve said it from the beginning: our election had issues, but they were not ones of voter fraud, as Donald Trump baselessly claimed from the White House podium today,” he said yesterday.
He also took to Twitter to denounce Maloney’s claim that he has become a mouthpiece for Trump.
“We have thousands of voters whose votes weren’t counted,” Patel tweeted. “The idea that I am somehow a mouthpiece for Donald Trump is absurd on its face — our arguments are the complete opposite. The democratic process doesn’t stop when it becomes politically inconvenient for you.”
Patel said the fight is not an establishment versus progressive fight, but one to protect voting rights of Americans in the midst of the pandemic.
The court decision requires all local board of elections within New York, including the city’s board, to count the two specific types of invalidated ballots.
The City Board of Elections was set to certify the primary election results today — however it’s unclear how last night’s court decision will impact the board’s timeline. It will likely delay the results further.
Maloney is expected to hold her lead on Patel, despite the court decision.
The incumbent was first elected to the 14th Congressional District in 1992 and has represented the 12th Congressional District since 2013.
She is expected to easily win the November general election for her seat.