By Brad Friedman on 12/2/2010, 5:30pm PT  

WTF?! 200,000 votes?!

Of course, this is just one of the reasons why we always encourage candidates to not concede on Election Night...

The city's Board of Elections routinely reminds New Yorkers that the election night vote count is unofficial and preliminary.

Still, the difference in the results from Nov. 2 and in the returns formally certified by the board on Wednesday seems striking: The board found 195,055 votes, or 17 percent more votes, than were originally reported.

That differential - which nearly equals the total vote for governor in the Bronx and Staten Island combined - does not include an additional 28,442 affidavit ballots that New Yorkers cast at the polls on Election Day because of missing registrations or other reasons and another 30,665 absentee and military ballots and scattered write-in votes.

"Unbelievable," said Dan Cantor, executive director of the Working Families Party, in response to the significant number of votes cast last month that were not discovered until this week.

The preliminary machine tally alone swelled from 1,145,826 on election night to 1,366,881 in the official version.

The largest cache of newly found machine ballots was in Queens - about 80,000, or 31 percent more than were reported on election night.
The board had come under heavy criticism during this year's campaign for its management of a new computerized voting system that replaced the antiquated lever machines.

The primary vote in September was marred by problems, including polling sites that opened hours late, workers who lacked training in the new machines and machines that failed to function properly.

While the discrepancy between the number of votes counted on election night and those that were ultimately certified is noteworthy, it was not large enough to reverse the results in any election.
"The unofficial election night returns reported by the press always have huge discrepancies - which is why neither the candidates or the election officials ever rely on them," said Douglas A. Kellner, co-chairman of the State Board of Elections.

It seems a bit disingenuous to say "the candidates", at least, never "rely on" the unofficial Election Night returns. Most of them clearly do, as they both concede and declare victory that night in most cases. Certainly the media relies on those numbers and, in the event that there are questions about those unofficial, media-trumpeted results in the following days, it's clear that whoever was named "the winner" on Election Night will be at a distinct advantage in any contests thereafter and whoever was declared as "the loser" that night will be accused of having "stolen" the election if the official results are different from those on Election Night (just ask Al Franken or Al Gore about that.)

Still, while official numbers always change during the canvass period following Election Day, it's unclear from the NYT report how the Board of Elections accounts for that many previously uncounted/unnoticed votes on Election Night. 200,000? Really???

If I'm able to learn more, of course, I'll let you know.

[Hat-tip to Joyce McCloy's Voting News!]

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