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NYC Board of Elections' trolled for apology over botched mayoral polls: 'Epic f**k up'

NYC Board of Elections was forced to issue a public apology after an error threw primary race into chaos and Twitter had a field day
A person casts their ballot at Madison Square Garden polling station on November 1, 2020, in New York City (David Dee Delgado/Getty Images)
A person casts their ballot at Madison Square Garden polling station on November 1, 2020, in New York City (David Dee Delgado/Getty Images)

UPDATE: Ex-policeman Eric Adams was elected New York City's mayor on November 2 and will become just the second African American to lead the United States's largest city.

The New York City Board of Elections (BOE) was left red-faced after a massive error threw the Democratic primary count into chaos. Late on June 29, the BOE issued a public apology via its Twitter page, which many found hilarious. Instead of using an official letterhead or image, the apology came in the form of a screenshot from Apple's Notes app.

The primary, for the Mayor of New York City, is one of the most anticipated races in 2021. The Democratic primary features numerous contenders to replace Bill de Blasio. Andrew Yang, the former presidential candidate dropped out after the initial results were not in his favor. The New York Times threw its weight behind "go-to problem solver" Kathryn Garcia. Outspoken Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio Cortez has backed civil rights activist Maya Wiley


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The highly contested election results could take weeks to come in since the city adopted a new ranked-choice voting system. Now adding to the chaos, the BOE has made a massive error, counting an additional 135,000 "test" ballots. It would have gone unnoticed too if it wasn't for current frontrunner Eric Adams.

Eric Adams speaks after receiving the endorsement from the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) in the Bronx on May 07, 2021, in New York City (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

What happened to the vote?

According to the BOE, the count was botched by the addition of 135,000 test ballots in the system. These ballots were used to test the Election Management System (EMS) ahead of the actual vote. The EMS produces Cast Vote Results, which are then tallied. Essentially, it's meant to test if the system is working perfectly and if the votes are counted accurately. However, it appears that someone didn't delete the test ballots from the EMS. 

As a result, when the actual ballots began to be counted, the test ballots were also included in the count. That meant an additional 135,00 votes were never cast but counted. The BOE has now rectified the error, and removed all the test ballots from the system, and will upload the results after "cross-referencing against election night reporting software". Late on June 29, the BOE issued an apology via Twitter, after Adams highlighted it. 

The apology statement from the New York CIty's Board of Elections published on June 29, 2021 (@BOENYC/Twitter)

Hours before the apology was issued, Adams tweeted, "Earlier today, the Board of Elections released a ranked choice voting simulation based on last week’s election results that they have since acknowledged include “discrepancies”. We are waiting for an explanation and still confident in our lead. Keep the faith, Team Adams!" He also added a longer statement, saying "the vote total just released by the Board of Elections is 100,000 plus more than the total announced on election night." 


Adams was more forgiving once the apology was issued, calling the error "unfortunate". However, not everyone else was.

BOE 'giving Republicans talking points' 

Within minutes, the BOE's apology went viral on Twitter, with users finding it hilarious that an official statement was screenshotted from the Notes app. One person said, "The NYC Board of Elections is posting Notes app apologies. What the fried fuck. These people are mind numbingly unqualified in every way." Another simply tweeted, "not the NYC board of elections doing a notes app apology." One said, "So who’s the NYC board of elections going to make fight to the death as a sacrifice for the epic fuck up today?"




Congressman Jamaal Bowman joked, "They got the notes app out, y’all. We might be waiting for a minute." Ocasio-Cortez joined in as well, tweeting, "BOE about to go on IG Live next."



Others slammed the error. One user tweeted, "Bang up job, NYC Board of Elections. I'm sure that anyone who lacked faith in how elections are managed after 2020's debacle feel sooooooooo much better now." Another joked, "Please send international observers to the NYC Board of Elections."



"Google can accept or decline a password practically before you enter it; voting has been concluded on the night of for a century… but now, the NYC Board of Elections needs “patience” FOR A PRIMARY. It’s like they’re trying to give the Republicans talking points," one person tweeted. Another person jokingly said, "I can't believe the NYC Board of Elections is trying to overthrow the government with this insurrection!"



The BOE has confirmed that the results displayed because of the error were only preliminary, and not the final results. It has purged the test ballots, and will now recount the vote with unofficial results due out by June 30. This isn't the first time the embattled agency has been in the midst of a scandal. During the 2020 presidential primaries, it had to disqualify 80,000 ballots because officials weren’t prepared to handle the deluge of mail-in votes cast. During the 2018 midterms, humidity in the city jammed the new $56 million scanners, forcing some voters to wait hours so that they could cast their vote.