At a hearing in State Supreme Court in lower Manhattan today, State Sen. Adriano Espaillat’s counsel Martin Connor announced the campaign’s intention to file a petition that could potentially pave the way for a do-over of last week’s Congressional primary election.
Espaillat lost to Rep. Charlie Rangel by what was initially reported as several thousand votes, but Rangel’s margin of victory is now about 2 percent, or 802 votes. The Espaillat campaign is hoping that voter complaints about irregularities at polling places and the existence of roughly 2,000 uncounted affidavit ballots could reverse the election’s outcome.
On Friday, Connor filed a petition against Rangel, the New York Police Department and the City Board of Elections asking the Court to watch over the counting of outstanding votes, a process that is not scheduled to begin until Thursday.
The new petition, which the campaign intends to file tomorrow, will include another statute covering “irregularities” in the primary process. If a judge does find evidence of irregularities, it could give Espaillat grounds to ask for a new primary election, said campaign spokesman Ibrahim Khan.
“The petition allows you to file for the election to be redone,” Khan said. “Today was about preserving all of our legal options.”
Initial reports from the BOE on primary night showed Rangel winning the race by roughly 2,000 votes out of more than 40,000 cast, but by last week’s end, an error that left votes from 79 of the 506 district precincts unaccounted for lowered the Board’s accounting of Rangel’s victory margin to 800 votes.
Rangel campaign manager Moises Perez would not comment on the reports of problems from primary night, including voters’ complaints about a lack of available bilingual poll-workers to help Spanish speaking voters.
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