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New York City Board of Elections Finds 200,000 Votes a Month After Election

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New York - The city’s Board of Elections routinely reminds New Yorkers that the election night vote count is unofficial and preliminary.

Still, the difference in the results from Nov. 2 and in the returns formally certified by the board on Wednesday seems striking: The board found 195,055 votes, or 17 percent more votes, than were originally reported.


That differential — which nearly equals the total vote for governor in the Bronx and Staten Island combined — does not include an additional 28,442 affidavit ballots that New Yorkers cast at the polls on Election Day because of missing registrations or other reasons and another 30,665 absentee and military ballots and scattered write-in votes.

“Unbelievable,” said Dan Cantor, executive director of the Working Families Party, in response to the significant number of votes cast last month that were not discovered until this week.

The preliminary machine tally alone swelled from 1,145,826 on election night to 1,366,881 in the official version.

The largest cache of newly found machine ballots was in Queens — about 80,000, or 31 percent more than were reported on election night.

A Board of Elections spokeswoman had no immediate explanation for the disparity.

The board had come under heavy criticism during this year’s campaign for its management of a new computerized voting system that replaced the antiquated lever machines.

The primary vote in September was marred by problems, including polling sites that opened hours late, workers who lacked training in the new machines and machines that failed to function properly.

While the discrepancy between the number of votes counted on election night and those that were ultimately certified is noteworthy, it was not large enough to reverse the results in any election.

Depending on the total statewide count, which has not yet been certified, it appeared that the Working Families Party, which is now in the fifth column on the ballot, would slide over to the fourth column and the Independence Party, which is third, would shift to fifth.

On election night, the trail of reporting from election inspectors, police officers and the press concluded that Andrew M. Cuomo, the Democrat, carried the city with 901,640 votes in the race for governor. His official total, including paper ballots, was 1,097,792, or 196,152 additional votes, for a difference of 22 percent. The Republican Carl P. Paladino’s count went from 191,652 on Nov. 2 to 212,423 in the official count.

“The unofficial election night returns reported by the press always have huge discrepancies — which is why neither the candidates or the election officials ever rely on them,” said Douglas A. Kellner, co-chairman of the State Board of Elections.

Including affidavit, absentee, military and emergency ballots, the Board of Elections counted 1,366,982 votes cast for governor, which represents about 34 percent of the city’s registered voters.

In order to vote on two City Charter amendments, including a restoration of a two-term limit for city elected officials, voters would have had to fill in the back of paper ballots before feeding them into digital scanners. Only 24 percent of registered voters did so, or about 375,000 fewer than voted for governor.

Among the write-in candidates for governor, the biggest winners were the incumbent, David A. Paterson, with 79 votes (approximately, since spellings varied), followed by 65 for Rick A. Lazio, whom Mr. Paladino defeated in the Republican primary; 45 for Rudolph W. Giuliani, 43 for Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, 6 for former Gov. George E. Pataki and 5 each for former Gov. Eliot Spitzer and former Mayor Edward I. Koch, and 4 for former Gov. Mario M. Cuomo.

“None of the above” received 8 write-in votes.

In the race to fill Hillary Rodham Clinton’s unexpired United States Senate term, the appointed incumbent, Kirsten E. Gillibrand won handily. Caroline Kennedy, whom Mr. Paterson had considered appointing to the seat, received 13 write-in votes.

NY Times
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