Espaillat campaign seeks court intervention; judge orders hearing
By Debralee Santos
The contested primary race in the 13th Congressional district between Rep. Charles Rangel and challenger New York State Senator Adriano Espaillat has just gotten more heated.
The Manhattan Times has learned that the Espaillat campaign today filed a petition seeking New York State Supreme Court intervention in the ongoing vote count, and Judge Donna Mills ordered a hearing for Mon., July 2nd at 2:30 p.m.
The petition was filed by Stoll, Glickman and Bellina, LLP and sought to “invoke the court’s jurisdiction to rule on the casting or canvassing, or refusal to cast or canvass any ballot” in the race.
Among the charges cited in the petition is that the Board of Elections (BOE) failed to properly account for a “canvass and/or re-canvass” of votes cast at 10:00 a.m. on Wed., Jun. 27th, immediately following primary election night.
The policy is official BOE procedure, as was published in May in its “Notice to all Candidates” in the congressional primaries.
The petition charges that the tallying began instead “at around 4:30 p.m. on June 28”- and that representatives from the Espaillat campaign were not permitted to observe in either the Bronx or Manhattan offices of the BOE.
“Instead, they were kept so far away from the activity that nothing meaningful could be seen or heard in both county Board of Elections offices,” claims the petition.
In the days since Tuesday’s primary race, in which Rep. Rangel was declared the winner by the Associated Press, the 21-term incumbent’s lead over Sen. Espaillat has tightened considerably.
After polls closed on Tues., Jun. 26th, Rep. Rangel was ahead by nearly 1,900 votes.
But as the vote count continues to be tallied, just over 1,032 votes appear to separate the two candidates.
Moreover, results from 32 of the districts total 506 precincts have not been released by the Board of Elections, which has refused to comment.
Supporters of the Espaillat campaign gathered in front of Rep. Rangel’s Harlem district office on Thursday afternoon to call for a federal election monitor to oversee the vote count.
City rules require a manual recount if the margin should come to be less than ½ of 1 percent of the total votes cast.
In response to Judge Mills’ order for a hearing, Sen. Espaillat’s campaign released the following statement:
“Three days after a winner was declared in this election, there are still votes to be counted. 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 counted.”
Rangel campaign spokesperson Ronnie Sykes refused to comment specifically on Friday’s developments in court, but referred to the statement issued earlier: “We are confident in the process and we want to make sure every vote is counted. We are confident that at the conclusion of this process we will be victorious.”