The Board of Elections released new preliminary numbers in the Democratic mayoral primary Wednesday, its second try at calculating ranked choice voting results for ballots that were cast in person last week. More than 124,000 absentee votes have yet to be tallied.

Adi Talwar

Voters cast their ballots at P.S. 94 in the Bronx on primary day.

Former Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia is catching up to front runner Eric Adams’ in the Democratic primary for mayor, according to unofficial, early results released by the city’s Board of Elections Wednesday—the board’s second attempt at calculating ranked choice voting (RCV) for ballots that were cast in-person last week.

Read more coverage on the upcoming 2021 NYC elections here.

With more than 124,000 absentee votes yet to be tallied and a winner not expected to be declared for weeks, the preliminary look finds Garcia with 48.9 percent of votes counded so far, after nine RCV elimination rounds. Brooklyn Borough president Adams, who predicted victory in the race last week, leads by just a short margin with 51.1 percent of votes. Attorney Maya Wiley closely trails Garcia in the eighth round before being eliminated in the ninth, the ongoing tally shows.

Still, thousands of absentee ballots have not yet been counted, meaning Adams’ lead could further shrink—or grow—by the time election results are expected to be certified in a couple of weeks.

The unofficial numbers released Wednesday are similar to an earlier count the BOE published the day before but then retracted, saying it made an error in its initial tabulation by accidentally including 135,000 dummy ballots. In a statement, the BOE apologized for the mistake, which it attributed to “human error” unrelated to RCV, a new voting method the city adopted last year.

“We have implemented another layer of review and quality control before publishing information going forward,” the BOE’s statement said. “As we continue to count absentee ballots and run further RCV tabulations, we will do so with a heightened sense that we must regain the trust of New Yorkers.”

The BOE’s error on Tuesday prompted calls for reforms and better oversight of the entity, which has made a number of high-profile mistakes in past elections. Adams’ campaign announced it was filing a lawsuit in Brooklyn Supreme Court “to preserve our right to a fair election process and to have a judge oversee and review ballots, if necessary.” Wiley called on the BOE to “count every vote in an open way” while Garcia urged New Yorkers “to patiently wait for over 124,000 absentee ballots to be counted and included in the ranked choice voting tabulation.”

State Senate leadership has also promised to investigate Tuesday’s incident, saying in a statement that the situation was a “national embarrassment.”

“In the coming weeks, the Senate will be holding hearings on this situation and will seek to pass reform legislation as a result at the earliest opportunity,” said Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins.

In addition to a corrected preliminary count in the Democratic mayoral contest, the BOE on Wednesday also released updated early data in the ranked-choice Democratic races for public advocate, comptroller, and the Republican race for mayor.

After one round of RCV, current Public Advocate Jumaane Williams comes out with more than 70 percent of in-person ballots, the latest numbers show. Brooklyn Councilmember Brad Lander continues to lead for comptroller, with nearly 52 percent of the vote after 10 rounds of voting and Council Speaker Corey Johnson trailing with just over 48 percent of ballots. Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa maintains a large lead over rival Fernando Mateo in the Republican mayoral.

The BOE is due to release another updated RCV count on July 6, while final election results cannot be certified until mid-July.

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