NEW YORK (AP) – A judge says the New York City Board of Elections can certify the contested primary election between U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel and state Sen. Adriano Espaillat (ay-dree-AH’-noh es-pil-AHT’) but can’t make it official until the court approves it.
Bronx Supreme Court Justice John Carter ruled Thursday afternoon that the final count can’t be transmitted to the state Board of Elections until he says so. That’s the final step to make an election result official.
Lawyers for Espaillat argue that voters were blocked from casting ballots or improperly asked for identification. Lawyers for the board of elections and Rangel say those claims are untrue.
Rangel led by a wide margin on primary night but saw the margin drop to 802 votes by last weekend with 2,000 ballots still to be counted. He’s trying for a 22nd term in Congress despite an ethics scandal and new district lines.
The New York City Board of Elections began the slow and tedious process of counting about 2,000 absentee and affidavit ballots Thursday in the contested Democratic primary in a district where veteran Rep. Charles Rangel is trying to hold on to his chance for a 22nd term.
Meanwhile, in a courtroom in the Bronx, lawyers for Rangel, challenger Adriano Espaillat and the city board of elections tussled over whether to keep open the option of further court action if the count upholds Rangel’s victory.
The 13th Congressional District race appeared decided last week on election night, with Rangel seemingly holding a sizable lead. But the vote margin shrank, leading some to wonder if Espaillat, a state senator, conceded too soon.
A tally released by the Board of Elections last weekend showed Rangel led by 802 votes. There could be a full manual recount if the final difference is less than one-half of 1% of all votes cast.
More than a dozen members of each candidate’s camp monitored the counting as it began at a Lower Manhattan office.
In the crowded room, there were two tables for counting – one each for 68th and 69th Assembly Districts, which are in the 13th Congressional District.
The vote also included GOP ballots from the U.S. Senate primary, a far smaller number because the district is heavily Democratic.
At each table there was a team of 4 elections board employees, two Democrats and two Republicans. They were counting the ballots which have already had been validated by the elections board.
Also at each table was one observer for the Espaillat campaign, one watcher for Rangel, and one lawyer for Rangel. Both campaigns were allowed lawyers and observers, but Espaillat only sent observers.
The ballots were being counted until 6 p.m. Thursday.
In the Bronx, state Supreme Court of Judge John Carter, Espaillat’s lawyer said he wants to maintain the option of reviewing any irregularities.
“We have identified many instances in which people were turned away from the polls,” said Leo Glickman. Glickman said he’s review possible voter suppression, too.
A New York City lawyer arguing for the board of elections, though, said Espaillat’s camp is overreaching.
“They want carte blanche to inspect he voting machines … their allegation of fraud has no specificity,” said Stephen Kitzinger.
Carter said he would issue a decision Thursday.
Rangel’s lawyer, Arthur Greig, accused Espaillat’s campaign of trying to slow down the process to score political points.
Source: FOX 5 NY