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Oops, New York Did It Again
Sean Parnell • Apr 26, 2021

A while back I wrote about New York’s unfortunate habit of failing to provide accurate vote counts for presidential electors, and how they managed to once again miss the mark in 2020. Here’s a brief excerpt:

…[F]or at least the fourth consecutive presidential election cycle, the numbers submitted by New York on its Certificate of Ascertainment were off, though this time only by 18,000 or so votes. The missing votes are a bit harder to spot this year because the vote totals on the Certificate of Ascertainment and the certified election results released by the state Board of Elections (BOE) are identical. In past years the Certificate was inaccurate while the numbers provided by the BOE were accurate, or at least far closer to accurate.

But the election totals for Suffolk County (eastern end of Long Island) included in New York’s certified results are off when compared to the county’s reported results. The state totals show the Biden/Harris ticket with exactly 368,000 votes, while Suffolk County reports 381,021. For Trump/Pence, the state reported 375,821 compared to 381,281 votes received according to the county. The total difference between what the state reported and what the county reported is 18,481.

18,000+ votes. Not bad by New York standards (the previous three presidential elections they were off by between 47,000 and 415,000) but not great if you’re hoping to use the Certificate of Ascertainment or the statewide canvas to determine a winner under the National Popular Vote interstate compact (NPV).

So today I go to the New York State Board of Elections site to find some different information and it occurs to me to check and see if the statewide canvas has been updated and now reflects the full vote count from Suffolk County. Sure enough, there’s a note on the web page saying that the results have been updated as of March 15, 2021.

Except the newly certified numbers don’t match what they would have been if they’d just corrected the Suffolk tallies. Instead, there’s now a 29,000 vote difference between the total votes reported on New York’s Certificate of Ascertainment and the updated canvas. Meaning there were 11,000 missing ballots beyond the 18,000 missing from Suffolk County.

The additional votes on the March 15 report don’t appear to have come from the five counties that make up New York City – those numbers haven’t changed. Suffolk county’s numbers have been revised slightly downward with Trump losing about 20 votes, while Onondaga County has added more than a thousand votes, mostly for Trump. I suspect if I took the time to really examine each of New York’s 62 county totals I’d find some didn’t change at all, some added or subtracted a few hundred votes at most, and a few had sizeable changes, such as those in Suffolk and Onondaga counties.

All these changes, made nearly two months after Inauguration Day, only further illustrate one of the most significant problems with NPV – there is no reliable national vote count to conclusively and accurately determine the winner, certainly not one drawn from Certificates of Ascertainment, each state’s final canvas of votes, or the county-level results that advocates for the compact sometimes claim will be an acceptable substitute.