Rangel-Espaillat Race: Voters Claim Confusion at Polls. Headed to Court.
The 13th Congressional District election is not over. With voters citing confusion, and being turned away at the polls in the primary election last week, and all votes not in yet, the victor remains unclear. Last Tuesday, the race was called in favor of Charles Rangel, the 22 term incumbent, with a 43.98 percent lead.
On Friday, Senator Adriano Espaillat asked for a judge for a hearing. Here is the background.
The publication Capital Reports:
State Senator Adriano Espaillat hopes to get a judge to help oversee the recount in his race against Rep. Charlie Rangel.
Both sides are acknowledging votes may not have been recorded properly by poll workers. And supporters on both sides are stepping forward to say voters were improperly turned away from voting. (Espaillat supporters made direct reference to “Florida” during a rally last week.)
One Espaillat supporter, Ruben Vargas, told reporters that voters with “Dominican accents” were turned away from the polls on Tuesday. Vargas said voters with Puerto Rican accents did not have the same problem.
Yesterday, a number of callers to WBLS’s show, “Express Yourself”, said they too were turned away from voting in last week’s primary.
The New York City Board of Elections is criticized for its management of elections, including the Rangel-Espaillat race. New York Daily News columnist Juan Gonzalez writes:
For this confusion, we should thank the perennially incompetent hacks at the Board of Elections.
Amazingly, the Board’s Tuesday night tally listed 79 election districts — 15% of Rangel’s entire congressional district — as recording no votes.
Most of those zeroes were in areas like Washington Heights and the South Bronx, where Espaillat, who is seeking to become the first Dominican-American in Congress, happens to have his biggest base of support.
When AP reporters noticed all those zeroes, they immediately rechecked paper tallies the next day. They found 46 districts where people had in fact gone to the polls. They then counted the votes in those districts, and Espaillat suddenly gained some 1,200 votes over Rangel.
As for the other 33 election districts, AP couldn’t find any paper results. I called Valerie Vazquez, spokeswoman for the Board, several times Thursday to ask about those missing districts. Vazquez did not return my calls.
This is the same Board of Elections that has reportedly spent $160 million in federal and city funds over the past few years to replace the old mechanical voting machines with these electronic scanners.
This is not the first time the NYC Board of Elections and elections laws were criticized.
In a recent CBS Local report, voter advocate groups complained, “You throw up your hands in despair, not only at the Board of Elections but at some of the byzantine election law that hasn’t been updated, that leaves us with 21st-century technology and 20th-century vote-counting regulations,” said Neal Rosenstein, elections specialist at the New York Public Interest Research Group. Susan Lerner, executive director of the advocacy group Common Cause New York, calls the process “beyond excruciating.”
A State Supreme Court judge will hold a hearing on the Rangel-Espaillat vote count today. In a press release Senator Adriano Espaillat said:
Three days after a winner was declared in this election, there are still votes to be counted. There are more than 70 election districts where votes have not been accounted for. Our campaign has not been allowed to adequately monitor the Board of Elections’ proceedings, as required by law.
Since the June 26 election, the close margin in the District 13 congressional race has narrowed. The day after the primary, Rangel had 43.98 percent of the vote; and, Sen. Adriano Espaillat 41.18 percent – a 2,300 vote difference. By Thursday, the margin narrowed by just under 1,100 votes.
Charles Rangel was elected to Congress in 1971, representing the 15th Congressional District. In March 2012, federal judges imposed revised districts in New York. The 15th Congressional District is now the 13th Congressional District.