Patel refuses to concede as Maloney’s lead grows in contested congressional race

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (l.) and her Democratic primary challenger Suraj Patel.
Photos by Mark Hallum

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney’s streak of representing the 12th district since 1993 appears it may continue after she extended her lead over insurgent Democrat Suraj Patel by 3,700 votes this week.

Patel, who also challenged Maloney back in 2018, walked away last time with 40 percent of the vote. But, as the absentee ballot count for the June 23 primary election nears its end, Maloney’s lead is only about 4 percent — and Patel’s campaign says they are not ready to concede.

“The Congresswoman is delighted, now that the Board of Elections has finished their preliminary scans of absentee ballots, to have a decisive winning margin of over 3,700 votes,” Maloney’s camp said in a statement. “Both she and the campaign are thankful and appreciative of all our volunteers and supporters, whose hard work and perseverance have made this possible.”

Patel has struggled against the system over the course of the month-long canvas of votes. In mid-July, it was observed by both candidates that up to 20 percent of absentee ballots were discarded by the city Board of Elections over missing or late postmarks in compliance with state law.

“Today, six weeks [after the primary] — and with more than 12,000 ballots rejected in our single district alone — the Board of Elections’ initial count of the record 95,000 votes in our race has been completed, and while no candidate secured a majority, we accept the result that has the incumbent ahead by less than 4 percent,” Patel said. “Unfortunately, in ours, thousands of voters never received their ballots, and for those who returned their ballots by mail, nearly 25 percent were rejected. This is not just slightly above the norm compared with other states. It’s 100 times the rejection rate of Wisconsin.”

As a result, Patel’s campaign, alongside Maloney’s, aimed to take the Cuomo administration to court for voter disenfranchisement claiming that voters have no control over whether or not their ballot is postmarked by the United States Postal Service. The Patel campaign observed that many of those missing postmarks had arrived at the BOE on June 24, the day after the cutoff.

If Patel were to concede now, a campaign spokesperson argued, it would only undermine their effort to have some of the 12,000 invalidated ballots redeemed as they represent three times the margin of Maloney’s current lead.

Patel’s additional statements echoed those of others who observed the policies that led to so many ballots being deemed invalid: that the dysfunctional results of mail-in voting in New York is a black mark on the practice and will negatively impact the November presidential elections.

“America is watching #NY12 through a microscope,” the candidate tweeted Monday. “November depends on this moment. Do the right thing, NY. Count every vote.”

The 12th congressional districts includes the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn, a swath of the East Side of Manhattan and a portion of western Queens.

This story first appeared on AMNY.com.