N.Y. Today: The Vote Tally Fiasco

What you need to know for Thursday.

What to Know About the Vote Tally Fiasco

By Troy Closson

Reporter, Metro

It's Thursday.

Weather: Cooler and partly sunny, with a high in the mid-80s, but afternoon thunderstorms could bring gusty wind and heavy rain.

Alternate-side parking: In effect until Sunday (Independence Day).

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Dave Sanders for The New York Times

The goal was to offer additional insight into the mayor's race. The result was a mess.

After New York City's Board of Elections retracted a tally of ranked-choice votes because of a significant error, a new tabulation was released yesterday. The unofficial count suggested a tight race was in store among the Democratic candidates Eric Adams, Kathryn Garcia and Maya Wiley.

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The corrected results, however, did not end lingering questions over the initial mistake — the latest debacle in a history of blunders at the Board of Elections — and whether it would affect voters' faith in the elections process.

Here's what to know:

The updated results

The corrected ranked-choice exercise showed Mr. Adams edging out Ms. Garcia by about two percentage points, or 14,755 votes, in the final round. Ms. Wiley finished in third place, but was less than 350 votes behind Ms. Garcia before being eliminated.

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The sample playoff process suggests that the race may end in a tight heat. But both the numbers and standings of the top three could all be shaken up as roughly 125,000 Democratic absentee ballots are counted.

An official result is not expected for weeks.

The chaos

After the initial tally on Tuesday, some people quickly noticed the total count of votes was significantly higher than the overall number during early voting and Primary Day.

About seven hours later, the Board of Elections said it had mistakenly included about 135,000 test ballots in the tabulation.

The fallout

The updated outcome did not differ significantly despite the error. But details that emerged on Wednesday shed new light on the mistake.

The supplier of the open-source software that the city used to tabulate votes repeatedly offered its assistance, according to Christopher W. Hughes, the policy director at the provider, the Ranked Choice Voting Resource Center. But he told my colleague Dana Rubinstein that he did not hear back.

The slip-up reignited demands for meaningful reform at the elections board, long criticized for ineptitude and a lack of accountability. It was far from the first botched process. Last year, for example, about 100,000 New Yorkers received defective absentee ballots.

The State Senate majority leader, Andrea Stewart-Cousins, said that legislators would hold hearings on the situation and that they should move to quickly pass voting reforms.

From The Times

The Mini Crossword: Here is today's puzzle.

What we're reading

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced that a monument honoring essential workers would be created in Battery Park City, and some residents have pushed back. [Gothamist]

Several New York natives are missing after the collapse of a condominium building in Surfside, Fla. Here is one of their stories. [Daily News]

The city will reimburse taxi or other car expenses for homeless children and students with disabilities coming home from summer school programs. [Chalkbeat New York]

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And finally: Hunting for sculptures in augmented reality

On a torrid afternoon in June, Emma Enderby, chief curator of the Shed, and Cecilia Alemani, director and chief curator of High Line Art, walked side by side between their respective bailiwicks on the West Side of Manhattan, plotting the configuration of their first collaborative exhibition.

They were exultant.

"No night install," Alemani said. "No cranes. That's the best."

Nothing would be decided until right before the opening. "We didn't have to think about engineering or weight loads," Enderby said. "You can just spend a leisurely day placing them."

The exhibition, "The Looking Glass," which runs from Saturday through Aug. 29, is a show in which all of "them" — the sculptures on view — are virtual, existing only in augmented reality, or A.R.

Using an app developed by Acute Art, a London-based digital-art organization, a spectator can point a phone at a QR code displayed at one of the sites — the giveaway of where a virtual artwork is "hidden."

The code activates a specific sculpture to appear on the viewer's camera screen, superimposed on the surroundings. (Unlike virtual reality, or V.R., in which a viewer wears a device, such as goggles, A.R. does not require total immersion.)

Most of the virtual art will be placed on the plaza surrounding the Shed, on West 30th Street at 11th Avenue, supplemented by three locations on the nearby High Line.

Acute Art is supervised by the third curator of the exhibition, Daniel Birnbaum, who, because of the pandemic, could only be present remotely. "The Looking Glass" is an updated and expanded reprise of another Acute Art show, "Unreal City," which opened on the South Bank of London last year and then, in the face of new lockdown precautions, resurfaced in a monthlong at-home version.

A teaser, with three of "The Looking Glass" artists, was presented last month at Frieze New York at the Shed.

"There is something charming about it being secret or not completely visible," Birnbaum said in a phone interview. "It is a totally invisible show until you start talking about it."

It's Thursday — look around.

Metropolitan Diary: Stranded in the '70s

Dear Diary:

It was a beautiful spring Saturday in the 1970s. I had driven into the city from New Jersey for the day and was on the Upper West Side when my car started to sputter.

I stopped at a gas station, and the guy there said they could look at it, but not until Monday. So now I had to get back to New Jersey, but I had spent almost all the money I'd brought with me for the day. I only had 75 cents left — not even enough for a bus home.

I decided to call a friend who could, hopefully, come and get me. I saw a green phone booth outside a bar at the corner of 78th Street and Amsterdam Avenue.

Picking up the receiver, I noticed that it was unusually big and heavy. This is one really old phone, I thought to myself.

I dropped my last three quarters into the phone, but I didn't get a dial tone. The phone was dead and now I had no money left.

I went into the bar, where the bartender chuckled and said the phone outside was a prop. It was for a scene in "The Goodbye Girl," which was being filmed on the block.

He gave me a few quarters. I dropped them into the bar's pay phone and called my friend. Then I settled in to wait, and watched Marsha Mason do about a dozen takes on the street outside.

— Doug Joswick

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