Uncounted mail in ballots leave New York’s ‘hottest primary’ still undecided.
The fate of Suraj Patel, a former Indian American Obama campaign staffer, in what has been billed as New York’s hottest primary election, hangs in the balance of thousands of uncounted mail in ballots.
More than a month after June 23 election day, the Democratic primary contest between Patel, who has never held public office and Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, a House member since 1993, in the 12th Congressional District remains undecided.
Just 648 in-person votes are separating them, with 65,000 mail-in ballots still being counted, the Washington Post reported, leaving an entire district of 718,000 people across three boroughs waiting with bated breath.
At the center of this mess, the daily said, “is a massive influx of mail-in ballots — 403,000 returned ballots in the city this cycle vs. 23,000 that were returned and determined valid during the 2016 primary — and a system wholly unprepared to process them.”
Patel, 36, who aims to be the state’s first South Asian representative in Congress, helped run his family’s business constructing and franchising hotels in the Midwest before moving to New York in 2006. He has also taught at New York University’s business school.
His opponent, Maloney, 74, described as “a pal of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi” was recently elected chair of the House Oversight Committee.
The Post described “New York’s 12th as an extreme, but not isolated, case study” of districts where results have been delayed because of mail in ballots.
This is the only district in New York in which the absentees made up well over 50 percent of the vote, the paper noted, because so many wealthy residents fled to their second or third homes due to covid-19.
Both NY-12 candidates estimate that around 20,000 out of 45,000 mail-in ballots have been counted in Manhattan so far.
According to Patel’s campaign, he was up by 1,000 when the smaller portions of the district (but the larger percentage of invalid votes) in western Queens and northwestern Brooklyn finished tallying.
But with Maloney’s base of the Upper East Side being counted, he’s down by 2,000, the Post said.
The Patel campaign is no longer sending staffers and volunteers to monitor the count in Manhattan.
Unless something happened with the invalidated ballots in the race, “our path to victory becomes much narrower,” Patel’s field director was quoted as saying in an email.
On July 17, Patel joined a federal lawsuit charging Governor Andrew Cuomo and the Board of Elections with creating “an election law snafu.”
Maloney is not part of the lawsuit, but she did sign a joint statement with Patel and the other two candidates in their race demanding that all votes be counted.
“Never in my wildest dreams did I think that after tripling the electorate turnout, we would then be fighting weeks later to just get our ballots counted,” Patel was quoted as saying.
“It’s just a terrible canary in the coal mine for anyone looking at the November election.”
This race is actually a rematch. Patel challenged Maloney in 2018, and he got 40 percent of the vote by campaigning with then-candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and running as a progressive.