Indian American Suraj Patel’s fate hanging in balance

Suraj Patel
Suraj Patel;

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.

RELATED: Indian American Suraj Patel locked in nail biting New York Primary (June 30, 2020)

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.

ALSO READ: Suraj Patel raises $1.1 million to challenge incumbent Carolyn Maloney (April 10, 2018)

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.

One Comment

  1. Peter Lindner

    I’m from NY’s 12th congressional district, which is still counting absentee ballots from June 23. One month later and counting.

    Question: what do you think of the idea of counting absentee ballots by examining the date of the mail sack which would be sealed by the board of elections?

    Explanation of method :

    I came up with a way of dealing with ballots that are not postmarked. If the mail is delivered in canvas sacks to the board of elections headquarters, and they are each sealed and dated and logged in with the unique number (e.g. one of 12 for November 1), then you would know all of the ballots in that bag were prior to that date.

    So when the last bag is delivered on Election Day, that means that bag and all others prior to it it were filed timely.

    And after election day, you can examine statistically the number of postmarked ballots and see how many of them missed the election day and adjust the default based on the postmark for them and perhaps allow the unpostmarked ballots to qualify as timely.

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