Bloomberg News

NYC Board Can’t Declare Rangel Winner Until Judge Agrees

July 05, 2012

New York City’s Board of Elections was ordered not to send the results of last month’s Democratic primary for the U.S. Congress seat held by Representative Charles Rangel to the state until a judge approves it.

State Supreme Court Judge John W. Carter in the Bronx today told the Board of Elections it can certify the results of the election but can’t report them to the state -- which would make them official -- until they are approved by the court, according to a copy of the judge’s orders. Rangel’s top challenger, Adriano Espaillat, two days ago asked the court to order a review of the primary that could include a recount and testing and inspection of voting machines.

“It just started court proceedings to review the whole election,” Martin Connor, an attorney representing Espaillat, said of today’s order in a telephone interview. “You have to bring this proceeding by tomorrow or you can’t bring it forever.”

Elections officials counted about 25 percent of the more than 2,000 paper absentee and affidavit ballots today, with Rangel collecting 143 more votes than Espaillat. That increased Rangel’s lead to about 945 votes over Espaillat with about 1,500 votes yet to be counted, board spokesman Valerie Vazquez said.

During the June 26 primary, Rangel declared victory and Espaillat conceded defeat after results showed the incumbent ahead by 45.2 percent to 39.8 percent with 84 percent of polling places unofficially counted. The Associated Press, which reports the vote count, called the race for Rangel.

House Censure

Rangel, 82, has represented New York City’s Harlem neighborhood in the House for more than 41 years and once served as chairman of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee. Democrats make up almost 97 percent of the district in northern Manhattan and the Bronx, so winning the primary almost ensures victory in the November general election.

It was Rangel’s first campaign since the House censured him in December 2010 for 11 ethics violations, including failure to disclose and pay taxes on rental income from a house he owned in the Dominican Republic.

Espaillat, 57, seeks to become the first Dominican-born member of Congress. During the campaign, he said Rangel’s censure had reduced the congressman’s effectiveness and made him a “poster child for dysfunction in Washington.”

The vote margin had narrowed to 2 percentage points by June 30, and the Board of Elections is still counting absentee and affidavit ballots from several Assembly Districts in Manhattan and the Bronx, a process that may take several days, Vazquez said.

In the event the margin shrinks to within 0.5 percentage point, the law requires a machine-by-machine recount of the election, which would take weeks, she said.

The case is In the Matter of the Application of Adriano Espaillat v. The Board of Elections in the City of New York, 260496/2012, New York State Supreme Court (Bronx).

To contact the reporters on this story: Chris Dolmetsch in New York at cdolmetsch@bloomberg.net; Henry Goldman in New York at hgoldman@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net; Stephen Merelman at smerelman@bloomberg.net.


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