Write-in candidate leads in Buffalo, New York mayor election

Thursday, November 4, 2021

India Walton Mayor Byron Brown
Walton (left) and Mayor Brown (right)
Image: India Walton for Mayor campaign / Niccappon.

In a mayoral election held Tuesday in Buffalo, New York, United States, votes tallied as "write-ins" led the race over Democratic Party challenger India Walton 59 percent to 41 percent, with all precincts' votes reported.

The city's four-term incumbent mayor, Byron Brown, did not secure the nomination in its earlier Democratic primary election to be placed on the general election ballot, but led an extensive write-in candidate campaign against his fellow Democrat. Walton's name was the only one printed on the ballots in the general election for the mayoral race.

On Wednesday, the democratic socialist Walton conceded the race to Brown. In a statement posted to Twitter, Walton wrote, "However, while we anticipate that the margins will narrow, it seems unlikely that we will end up with enough votes to inaugurate a Walton administration in January", adding, "This was a special campaign. Our volunteer operation was unprecedented in Buffalo political history. We raised over one million dollars from thousands upon thousands of small dollar donors."

Brown's campaign distributed thousands of stamps for his supporters to apply his name to their ballots. After the election, Brown rebuked Walton's post-election statement. He said to CNN on Thursday, "I think it clearly is a rebuke of defund the police, it is a rebuke of socialism, and I think there were those from outside the city of Buffalo that underestimated the Buffalo community. They tried to come in and tell us who to vote for, and the people fought back, and we won".

Ballot counting is expected to be a slow process while the local elections board for Erie County tallies the votes from the handwritten names on the ballots. Under state law, officials have 25 days to tabulate and release a certified vote count.

The Erie County district attorney's office said it was investigating alleged tampering by poll inspectors, who may have produced pre-stamped ballots. A statement read, "Our office was contacted by the Board of Elections to investigate an allegation that poll workers may have misused a stamp at one polling location yesterday. We cannot comment further while the matter remains under investigation." According to Erie County elections commissioners Ralph Mohr and Jeremy Zellner, the inspectors suspected of tampering were removed and replaced at the polling place.