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'Absolute Catastrophe': New York's Mail-In Mess and What It Could Mean for the Presidential Election

Workers wear personal protective equipment as they check ballots beside security cages at a Board of Elections facility, Wednesday, July 22, 2020, in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Workers wear personal protective equipment as they check ballots beside security cages at a Board of Elections facility, Wednesday, July 22, 2020, in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

New York's attempt to keep voters safe from COVID-19 by letting them vote by mail in the state's June primary has led to big delays in completing the vote count.

This is causing concerns over the possibility that some votes were tossed out and whether or not there will be an even bigger mess in the presidential election in November.

President Trump's Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany blasted New York's vote counting as an "absolute catastrophe" and a reason to question voting by mail.

The state is struggling because more than ten times the usual number of mail-in ballots were used.

Election offices say it will take until early August to finish counting the absentee ballots that bogged down the system. Nearly 2 million New Yorkers requested mail-in ballots for the primary.

Officials report that some ballots were rejected because voters forgot to sign and date them, while others were missing a postmarked envelope indicating whether it was mailed before the deadline.

Some voters who applied for absentee ballots say they received them so close to the June 23 cut off date that they worried if the ballot will be postmarked in time. 

Susan Lerner, executive director of Common Cause New York said, "We're going to have to adjust our expectations. We're going to have preliminary but not final results on Election Day. It takes time to get it right. And we should take that time."

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A lawsuit was filed on July 17 by Democrat Suraj Patel, who is running against US Rep. Carolyn Maloney, over the reversal of thousands of ballots that lacked postmarks.

Patel says 30 percent of mail-in ballots received in the Brooklyn congressional district were discarded.

"This election and New York's response, including the Senate and the Assembly, is providing Donald Trump with a blueprint to game the November elections unless they act," Patel claimed.

Maloney thanked the Board of Elections for their tireless efforts in resolving the issue and urged everyone to patiently wait for the full results

"While everyone wants the results to be certified, we can't sacrifice accuracy for speed when it comes to something as critical as peoples' vote," Maloney wrote in a statement.

Lawmakers addressed the idea of modernizing the antiquated system and Gov. Andrew Cuomo has expressed support for legislators to adjust the state law that determines when absentee ballots can be accepted. 

Uncertainty remains whether or not New York will allow poll workers to count all ballots, even those without a postmark and those received multiple days after Election Day.

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