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Judge orders that NY ballots on House primaries be counted

A federal judge has ordered the New York Elections Board to count more than one thousand disqualified absentee ballots in the primary race between House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairwoman Carolyn MaloneyCarolyn Bosher MaloneyTrump, House lawyers return to court in fight over subpoena for financial records Safeguarding US elections by sanctioning Russian sovereign debt Fears grow of voter suppression in Texas MORE (D-N.Y.) and challenger Suraj Patel.

It appears that the limited ruling will not be enough to impact the outcome of the race. The New York Times estimates the ruling will affect 1,200 ballots. Maloney leads Patel by about 3,700 votes.

Maloney declared victory in a statement and called on Patel to concede.

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“Weeks ago I called for all of these ballots to be counted," Maloney said. “Although the number involved cannot possibly affect the outcome of my primary election, which I won by a significant margin, I am happy that voters in my district will have their votes counted notwithstanding the Postal Services mistake."

The outcome of the June 23 primary has still not been finalized more than six weeks after Election Day due to vote counting issues related to the surge in mail voting.

New York initially postponed its primary, before deciding late in the process to send absentee ballots to all voters.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpFox News president, top anchors advised to quarantine after coronavirus exposure: report Six notable moments from Trump and Biden's '60 Minutes' interviews Biden on attacks on mental fitness: Trump thought '9/11 attack was 7/11 attack' MORE has used the delay to attack mail-in voting, making unsubstantiated claims about fraud and warning that the expected surge in mail-in voting could lead to chaos and delays that extend the general election far beyond Nov. 3.

The U.S. Postal Service and the New York Board of Elections have experienced all kinds of difficulties in counting the mailed primary ballots.

There was confusion about whether ballots sent in the pre-paid envelopes should be postmarked. Many were not postmarked, leading those received after June 23 to be disqualified. It’s possible that thousands of more ballots postmarked after Election Day were sent to voters with too little time to fill them out and return them.

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Judge Analisa Torres of the Federal District Court in Manhattan found “irregularities” at post offices handling mail ballots in Brooklyn, where many pre-paid return envelopes were not postmarked.

Torres ruled that all absentee ballots received by June 24, a day after the primary, should be counted whether they are postmarked or not. In addition, all ballots received by June 25 will be counted as long as they were postmarked by Election Day.

“This is strong evidence that USPS locations in Brooklyn handled absentee ballots differently from the postal service locations in the other boroughs,” Torres wrote.

“A significant number of Brooklyn ballots that should have been postmarked were not. Whether an individual’s vote will be counted in this race, therefore, may depend in part on something completely arbitrary—their place of residence and by extension, the mailbox or post offices here they dropped off their ballot. Not only is this ‘not a process with sufficient guarantees of equal treatment,’ it is also the type of differential treatment that the Supreme Court has found to violate the ‘one person, one vote’ principle.”

Maloney praised the ruling and accused Patel of being "Trump’s mouthpiece in disparaging mail voting."

The Patel campaign has not responded to a request for comment.

A primary race in New York’s 15th District has also not been called yet, although Democrat Ritchie Torres has declared victory and holds a significant lead.