In what Politico described as a “bizarre situation that keeps getting weirder,” there is still no clear winner in the Democratic primary battle between State Senator Adriano Espaillat and 21-term congressman Charlie Rangel. Tuesday night’s preliminary numbers indicated that, with 74 percent of the 13th Congressional District’s precincts reporting, Rangel had won with 49.5 percent of the vote, leading Espaillat (initially said to have received 33.8 percent) to concede defeat. However, as results continued to come in, Rangel’s lead dwindled, and the Espaillat camp released a statement saying they’d not yet given up.
Election workers spent Friday “scrambling to reassess” the votes, examining affidavit ballots and voting booth memory cards. Valerie Vazquez, a spokeswoman for the New York City Board of Elections, promised a final tally by 2 p.m., but that deadline passed without any definitive word. Per Politico:
What’s known is this: As of Friday evening, 32 precincts – six percent of all votes cast – had yet to be accounted for. And another 2,447 affidavit ballots and 667 absentee votes hadn’t been counted yet either. According to the city Board of Elections, Rangel’s lead over second-place finisher state Sen. Adriano Espaillat stood at 1,032 votes, with enough outstanding ballots to alter the outcome.
Last night, the New York Supreme Court agreed to hold a Monday hearing on the results of the race, including a look at the ongoing vote-counting process. Here’s the Espaillat campaign’s reaction to the court’s announcement:
“We are pleased with the Court’s decision to hold a hearing on the Board of Elections’ proceedings in the 13th Congressional District race. Three days after a winner was declared in this election, there are still votes to be counted,” Espaillat said in a statement. “There are more than 70 election districts where votes have not been accounted for. Many of the election districts that have inexplicably been left to count are in Washington Heights and the Bronx. Additionally, there are nearly 3,000 affidavit ballots to be count. Our campaign has not been allowed to adequately monitor the Board of Elections’ proceedings, as required by law. The BOE continues to stonewall not only our campaign, but also the news media, which is particularly disturbing given that it blocks the free flow of information and transparency – the bedrock of our democratic system.”
Meanwhile, both Espaillat and Rangel’s supporters have started to get cranky. “We’re waiting for the results of the Board of Elections,” said Rangel’s campaign manager, Moises Perez. “It’s a process that has to be completed by them. We want them to do it as soon as possible.” Espaillat’s chief of staff, Aneiry Batista, who has been observing the counting process, called the situation “crazy” and said, “I’m frustrated by the system…They don’t want to give us answers.” So far, Rangel hasn’t had much to say on the matter. When asked by reporters, he responded, “I’m not hearing anything because I’ve been on the floor, I’ve been at legislative meetings, I’ve been at caucuses.”
It does not seem as though the dispute will be resolved any time very soon. Vazquez pointed out that the 4th of July means officials likely won’t be able to start looking at absentee ballots until the end of next week. If the margin gets down to one-half of one percent or less, the the board will have to do a manual count of the ballots.