Congratulations are to be made to Jamaal Bowman, who just won the congressional seat for District 16 in New York. He has recently unseated the incumbent, Representative Eliot Engel, by a whopping 16 points.
The announcement was made official on Friday by the Associated Press, some three weeks after the election date.
Yes, you read that correctly. It is now over three weeks past the primary election date, and just now, results are being made known.
Because it has taken the state this long to count the thousands of mail-in absentee ballots that were sent in.
And according to the New York Times, other districts are still awaiting results.
“More than three weeks after the New York primaries, election officials have not yet counted an untold number of mail-in absentee ballots, leaving numerous closely watched races unresolved, including three key Democratic congressional contests.”
As the typically liberal outlet reported, the vast numbers of mail-in ballots and the colossal amount of time required to process them correctly can be blamed on the novel coronavirus pandemic.
With people fearful about being out in public, and in particular, areas that are sure to be crowded, most states have allowed a severe influx of absentee ballots to be mailed out.
But because the states are unaccustomed to sending out and receiving such large numbers of these, the ballot count “has been painstakingly slow, and hard to track, with no running account of the vote totals available.”
As the Times noted, some races, such as the one for New York’s 12th Congressional District, have so few ballots counted that it “borders on the absurd.” So far, only 800 of 65,000 votes have been counted.
And that doesn’t even begin to take into account all of the ballots that have had to be disqualified. The NYT says that somewhere between 20 and 20 percent of all New York City ballots have been disqualified for some reason or another in recent weeks.
But they aren’t the only state to experience such frustrations. California reportedly rejected over 100,000 ballots during its March primary. And in Florida, almost 20,000 votes were not accepted for its presidential primary. And the list goes on and on.
According to the Washington Post, “More than 18,500 Floridians’ ballots were not counted during the March presidential primary after many arrived by mail after the deadline. In Nevada, about 6,700 were rejected in June because election officials could not verify voters’ signatures. And during Pennsylvania’s primary last month, only state and court orders prevented tens of thousands of late-returned ballots from being disqualified.”
All of this calls into question how the process will work in November for a presidential election and hundreds of Senate and House elections when these measly few races are causing such grand issues.
Since the novel coronavirus pandemic began and succeeded in changing life as we knew it, people have been talking about mail-in voting. It was upheld as one of the only ways in which people could potentially vote without risking their health.
However, the logistics of getting those votes where they need to be and when has become quite a problem for most states. And it’s leading many, even staunch progressives who pushed the idea initially to hesitate on their support of the concept.
Progressives like Jamaal Bowman, who just won in New York, would have typically pushed for such a system. But now, he and his staff aren’t so sure.
Rebecca Kurtz, who served as an adviser for Bowman’s campaign, told the Times, “This is just a primary: Imagine November with the presidential race and all the Senate and House races. What’s going to happen to our country?”
Our nation cannot afford to not know for three or more weeks who our president is, who will be sitting in Congress, and essentially who will be running our nation. We cannot risk being without a legitimate Congress or president for that long of a time.
If we had months and months yet before the election, we have time to figure out the kinks and make it work. But as it already near the end of July, that time has now passed.
The only solution is to figure out a way to make in-person voting as safe as possible. Surely if we can manage to get to and from the grocery store each week, we can make it to the polls just once.