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New York Board Of Elections Finishes Counting Absentee Ballots Over A Month After June Primary

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- More than a month after ballots were cast in the New York primary, the board of elections just finished counting all absentee ballots.

In some races, those votes were the deciding factor.

So how will delays impact the general election in November?

Voters stood in line for hours for the June 23 primary, and an overwhelming number mailed in absentee ballots, but it wasn't until Monday that the board of elections counted the last vote. That's five weeks after the election.

RELATED STORY: New York Primary Plagued By Voting Issues, Including Long Lines, Broken Machines And Absentee Ballot Mix-Ups

Suraj Patel is one of many candidates who waited anxiously for the results.

"Vote by mail is absolutely necessary. The question is making sure we do it right," Patel told CBS2's Aundrea Cline-Thomas.

Ultimately, he was defeated in the 12th Congressional District.

Patel is accepting the outcome but says the absentee process desperately needs reforms.

"We know that nearly 25% of people who actually went through the trouble of requesting a ballot, getting it, voting and dropping it in the mail will not have their ballots counted," he said.

Patel has boxes filled with copies of invalidated absentee ballots. The issues are wide-ranging, from where the post office stamped the ballot to voters forgetting to sign it.

Not to mention some who said online that they requested an absentee ballot but never received it.

CBS2 asked the board of elections about the problems, but they did not get back to us.

RELATED STORY: New Yorkers Urged To Fill Out Census, Register To Vote With Deadlines Less Than 100 Days Away

"They had to sort of ramp up and do an awful lot of things that they've never done before," said Betsy Gotbaum, executive director of the non-partisan government accountability watchdog group Citizens Union.

She's in contact with the board of elections, advocating for a smoother process.

"People can get their absentee ballot early," Gotbaum said.

RELATED STORY: NYCLU, Public Advocate Push Board Of Elections To Address Voting Issues Before November

As all eyes now focus on the November election, the question is can the board of elections handle what may be a record turnout, in person or by mail, during a global pandemic?

Voters are advised to register and vote early just to avoid any last-minute problems.

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