The New York City Board of Elections has missed the legal deadline to submit their final election results to the state, which was originally set for November 28th. Instead, city election officials plan to submit the results on December 1st.
The city BOE announced the decision earlier this week following an unprecedented election where absentee ballots played an even greater role in the election. The city BOE received a record-breaking 700,000 absentee ballots, with more voters taking advantage of the option to cast their ballot without visiting their poll site during the ongoing pandemic. But they did not begin counting those votes until November 10th, the last day the city BOE could receive an absentee ballot by mail. In the weeks since the election, teams of bipartisan staff have been methodically canvassing them every day, including weekends, taking only Thanksgiving off.
Democratic co-chair of the state Board of Elections, Douglas Kellner, told Gothamist/WNYC that the state has already begun to prepare the certification documents it needs to sign off on at their meeting scheduled for Thursday, December 3rd. Despite the city’s delay, he said he does not expect the delay to prevent the state from meeting its own certification deadline of December 7th.
But some state officials argue more needs to be done to speed up the process as New York takes on the dubious distinction of being one of the last state’s to certify its election results in the nation.
Join us for a behind the scenes glimpse into the public canvass process where a bipartisan team of Board staff open all absentee, affidavit and military ballots. pic.twitter.com/6LyB3brX1Y
— NYCBoardOfElections (@BOENYC) November 27, 2020
Deputy Senate Majority Leader Michael Gianaris described the city missing its statutory certification deadline as “unsurprising.” He’s already introduced bills to address some of the biggest complaints from this general election cycle including a proposal to add more early voting sites and another to grant local boards of election the right to process absentee ballot envelopes on a rolling basis when they arrive, and begin counting the ballots at 6 p.m. on Election Day, three hours before polls closed.
“That should at least get us past this idea that it’ll take weeks on end to tabulate the absentee ballots,” said Gianaris, who noted that the local boards will need additional resources and better administration to address the volume of work leading up to an election, but he said his legislation,“would certainly get us on par with other states that are able to announce the results, either on Election Day or very close to it.”
As the city does after every election, it was able to provide unofficial election night results, without any of the absentee ballot data. In contests with a wide margin of victory, like the presidential race, winners were called shortly after polls closed. But in races with a narrower margin those races dragged on since the results of absentee ballots could change the outcome of the race.
However Kellner does think it’s fair to critique the slow pace of New York’s counting process, “I mean, Georgia conducted a statewide hand recount in two or three days,” Kellner said, referring to the recount in the presidential election between President Donald Trump and now President-elect Joe Biden.
Kellner of the state BOE supports Gianaris’s proposal to expedite the absentee ballot counting process, especially if the state continues to expand access to voting by mail, and he otherwise praised the state’s counting process, which he described as transparent, verifiable and accurate.
For those reasons, he said the state BOE did not plan to object to the delayed certification in the 22nd congressional district, in Central New York, where incumbent Democrat Anthony Brindisi holds a razor slim 12-13 vote margin over Republican Claudia Tenney. Court proceedings are still underway in that race.
For its part, a spokesperson for the city BOE, Valerie Vasquez-Diaz, said the counting was completed across the city in all the boroughs except for Brooklyn. That work continued Friday and will be finished in advance of the commissioners meeting on Tuesday.