June 30, 2021 By Allie Griffin
Several candidates running for City Council seats in Queens filed preemptive lawsuits last week against the NYC Board of Elections (BOE) and their opponents ahead of the Board’s blunder yesterday.
At least six Queens Council candidates and two Queens borough president candidates have filed the lawsuits over the past week in order to maintain their right to have the courts review the final election count in their respective races.
They filed the suits after the Primary Election Day, which was held June 22. State law requires candidates to file suit no later than 10 days after an election.
Multiple candidates in particularly close races filed the lawsuits in advance of the certified ranked choice vote results. The preemptive suits secure their opportunity to present evidence to the court for or against tallying certain votes.
Council District 26 candidate Amit Bagga — who is currently in second place in a tight race — filed such a suit on Thursday.
“We have filed a suit against the Board of Elections to preserve our opportunity for judicial review of the Board’s counting of votes and administration of Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) for the first time,” said Ali Najmi, Counsel to the Amit for Council campaign.
“Under State election law, there is a short 10-day statute of limitations to commence this proceeding, which means one must file in court before all of the results are known.”
The D-26 race frontrunner, Julie Won — who led Bagga by just 125 first-choice votes on election night — filed a similar suit Monday against the BOE to retain the right to review the vote count.
Won’s campaign manager Eugene Noh said the “bad guy” in the situation is not other candidates, but the BOE.
Noh also said the 10-day window to file a lawsuit made little sense in the context of this race. He said the official results may not be known for weeks.
Council District 25 candidates Shekar Krishnan, Carolyn Tran and Yi (Andy) Chen; District 23 candidate Jaslin Kaur and Queens borough president candidates Donovan Richards and Elizabeth Crowley all filed similar suits as well.
Richards and Crowley are currently neck-and-neck in their race.
Mayoral candidates Eric Adams, Kathryn Garcia and Andrew Yang have also filed lawsuits to preserve their right to challenge counted or discounted votes.
The campaigns filed the lawsuits ahead of the chaos that has ensued at the BOE.
The BOE published incorrect preliminary results of the ranked choice vote count in the mayoral race Tuesday night. The Board neglected to remove more than 135,000 test ballots in the count.
Noh said the issue stems from incompetence at the BOE and urged the future City Council and state legislators to enact sweeping reforms to the agency instead of taking a piecemeal approach.
Noh and Najmi both said separately that they want to be confident that every vote is counted correctly.
“Our goal is the same as that of all candidates in all races — to ensure every vote is properly counted and that the rights of all voters and candidates are preserved,” Najmi said.