Rangel's Lead Grows in Contested Race - NBC New York

Rangel's Lead Grows in Contested Race

More than a dozen members of each candidate's camp monitored the counting



    Rangel's Lead Grows in Contested Race

    After one day of counting paper ballots, the New York City Board of Elections said that veteran U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel captured 332 new votes, compared with 189 new votes for his challenger in the contested Democratic primary.

    That would give Rangel a lead of 945 votes -- an increase from the 802-vote lead he had over state Sen. Adriano Espaillat when the recount began Thursday morning.

    The slow and tedious process of counting more than 2,000 absentee and affidavit ballots will resume at 10 a.m. Friday. Hundreds of ballots are still to be counted.

    Meanwhile, Bronx State Supreme Court Justice John Carter ruled Thursday the New York City Board of Elections can certify the election between Rangel and Espaillat but can't transmit the result to the state Board of Elections until he approves it. That transmission is the final step to make an election result official.

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    The 13th Congressional District race appeared decided last week on election night, with Rangel seemingly holding a sizable lead in his bid to represent the Harlem district for a 22nd term. But the vote margin shrank, leading some to wonder if Espaillat, a state senator, conceded too soon.

    There could be a full manual recount if the final difference is less than one-half of 1 percent of all votes cast.

    More than a dozen members of each candidate's camp monitored the counting as it began at the election board's lower Manhattan office.

    "This is a good example of every vote counts," said Vincent Torres, a Rangel supporter who was there to observe the counting process.

    In the crowded room, there were two tables for counting — one each for the 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.

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    At each table, a bipartisan team of four elections board employees — two Democrats and two Republicans — recorded the number of ballots that had already been validated by the elections board. These include absentee, affidavit, military and federal ballots.

    Later the ballots were placed in an electronic scanning machine, which officially counts the votes.

    Also at each table were two observers for the Espaillat campaign plus a watcher a lawyer for Rangel. Both campaigns were allowed lawyers and observers, but Espaillat only sent observers.

    The counting process remained generally civil, although at times the two camps sparred over ballot irregularities and bureaucratic minutiae.

    The ballots were being counted until 6 p.m. Thursday.

    In court in the Bronx, Espaillat's lawyer argued to Carter that 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 reviewing 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 the voting machines ... their allegation of fraud has no specificity," said Stephen Kitzinger.

    Rangel's lawyer, Arthur Greig, accused Espaillat's campaign of trying to slow down the process to score political points.

    "He's not going to overcome an 802-vote lead," Greig said. "He's doing this to slow down the vote and keep his name in the press."

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