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Board Of Elections Not To Rule Out Runoff Until Final Vote Count Finished

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Bill Thompson may have conceded, but the final decision on whether or not there is a runoff is up to the city's Board of Elections, which found itself on the defensive Monday as it continued the process of tallying up the final count of primary votes. NY1's Bobby Cuza filed the following report.

Bill Thompson may have been gracious toward his opponent, but he had few kind words for the Board of Elections Monday.

“Anybody in this city who cares about democracy and the ability of our people to express their will through the voting booth ought to be outraged," Thompson said.

Only on Monday, six days after the primary, did the Board of Elections begin sifting through some 87,000 paper ballots, most of which were absentee or affidavit ballots.

And the process of recanvassing, which involves opening up the lever machines and double-checking the vote counts recorded on election night, dragged on through the weekend, leaving the candidates in limbo.

“Under those circumstances, it is impossible to even campaign, let alone offer a meaningful choice to Democratic voters," Thompson said.

"This is the process. Everybody knows what the rules of the games are going in," said New York City Board of Elections Executive Director Michael Ryan.

Board of Elections officials say they have no choice, as their timetable is prescribed by state law.

Absentee ballots, which could be postmarked as late as last Monday, need time to arrive.

"The process that we're following is set by statute," Ryan said. "These aren't rules that we just decided to make up this week."

For now, vote totals show de Blasio just over the 40 percent threshold needed to avoid a runoff.

The numbers will change, however, once all the paper ballots are opened and counted, which could take until Thursday.

If de Blasio slips below 40 percent, a runoff must be held by law.

"Mr. Thompson's concession, and we'll put quotes around that, today has no legal binding effect," Ryan said.

No matter what, there will be a runoff for public advocate on October 1 between the top two Democratic vote-getters, Letitia James and Daniel Squadron.

This allows the Board of Elections to avoid the nightmare scenario, in which de Blasio falls below 40 percent, and it's forced to hold at election at an estimated $13 million for a race that's uncontested.

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