- Incumbent Congresswoman’s victory came 6 weeks after the primary that was besieged by mail-in ballot mismanagement.
Long-serving New York Democratic Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, 74, has managed to edge past her challenger Suraj Patel in the highly-contentious Democratic primary race in New York’s 12th Congressional District. Maloney’s Aug. 4 victory comes six weeks after the June 23 primary, which gained national attention due to the problems with mail-in ballots. The New York Times reported that “although city elections officials certified the results, they did not release updated vote totals.”
Prior to the counting of the mail-in ballots began, Patel, 34, an attorney, activist, and professor of business ethics at NYU, was almost tied with Maloney, with a few hundred votes separating the two. Patel, who was hopeful of winning the primary after the counting of the mail-in ballots, hasn’t conceded yet. Patel had filed a court case against Maloney in Manhattan federal court claiming that more than 12,000 mail-in votes were disqualified over issues with ballots, including lack of postcards.
Patel maintains that some uncounted ballots could still change the results. However, Maloney says the process has been completed to her satisfaction. Salon reported that Maloney was ahead “by more than 3,700 votes with fewer than 1,000 ballots to be counted in a four-way race.”
“I’m thrilled the voters of NY-12 have decided to return me to Congress for another term, with a decisive winning margin that clearly reflects the will of the voters,” Maloney said in a statement on Aug. 4, declaring victory. “I call upon Mr. Patel to do as almost every other losing candidate has done: concede that the voters have spoken and stop validating Trump’s undermining of our democratic processes,” she said.
The New York Post reported that Maloney “prevailed,” despite an Aug. 3 ruling from a judge ordering election officials “to count thousands of mail-in ballots throughout the state that were declared invalid for not having a post-mark or arriving at offices shortly after the June 23 primary.”
Patel issued a statement on Aug. 5 saying that the Board of Election has preliminarily certified the race without a final vote. “The precedent we set here will have implications for November and beyond.” Adding that his opponent has “pressurized him to concede, maliciously and falsely conflating my fight to count every vote with Donald Trump’s baseless attempts to discredit vote by mail.” He concluded saying that he cannot “responsibly concede until every vote is counted.”
Meanwhile, expressing concern over the mishandling of the mail-in ballots, Patel, in a Facebook post said that “every one of us should be concerned about a process that invalidated over 1 in 5 mail-in ballots in New York’s 12th Congressional District.” He called it “a jarring statistic for any developed Democracy and a rate 50-100x higher than that of Wisconsin, Georgia, Mississippi and dozens of other states.”
Patel noted that vote by mail “has worked masterfully in states like Oregon and Washington. In acknowledging that our system created de facto suppression of minority votes in true-blue New York City, we must look to their example as we fight to fix what failed in our election and restore faith in democracy in NY-12.”
According to the New York Times, the city’s “handling of the primary has been used as fodder by President Trump to raise questions about whether the nation is ready for the general election in November.”
This is not the first time that Maloney and Patel were pitted against each other. Patel ran against Maloney in 2018. At the time he had said that he was banking on the support of millennials in the June 26 primary and had claimed that the new generation is desperate to see change. Patel received about 17,000 votes in the primary, 8,000 less than Maloney.
In 2010, Maloney had faced a well-funded primary challenge from Indian American hedge fund lawyer Reshma Saujani. Saujani raised $1.3 million, but Maloney won the race with 81 percent of the votes to Saujani’s 19 percent.