With the results still uncertain in Rep. Charlie Rangel’s most difficult primary battle so far, attention has turned to the opening of absentee and affidavit ballots by the city Board of Election.
Rangel’s most prominent rival, state Sen. Adriano Espaillat, has filed court papers and called the primary a “phantom election” because of discrepancies in how votes were tallied. He is trailing behind Rangel by just 802 votes, with over 2,000 absentee and affidavit ballots left to be counted. The count could continue into next week.
At the BOE’s Manhattan borough office today, four “administrative bi-partisan assistants” worked through piles of ballots to verify voter names, poll sites and registration.
After each ballot is verified, an assistant shows the ballot to watchers and lawyers representing Rangel and Espaillat on either side of the table nearly two feet away. They can object at any point. Contested ballots are sent for court review. No objections had been made by about 2 p.m.
One observer from Espaillat’s camp, Al Kurland, 63, noted that the process was like waiting for “the paint to dry.”
He called the process “deeply flawed.”
“For three days you sit or stand 12 to 15 feet away from people doing the validity or invalidity of ballots and you just wait for the
results,” he said. “You’re not really observing the process in totality”
The police department reported unofficial results for the June 26 primary that showed zeroes in 79 out of the district’s 506 precincts. Many Latinos whose votes might have helped tip the election in Espaillat’s favor are registered in 65 of the districts that contained zeroes.
BOE spokeswoman Valerie Vazquez said the NYPD puts zeroes for “sometimes illegible or even accurate data.”
“We don’t have an answer as to why they do that,” she said.
At a BOE public hearing on Tuesday, Steven Richman, an attorney for the BOE, defended the agency’s performance during the primary.
“The only thing out of the ordinary was the extraordinary need for affidavit ballots in Brooklyn and Manhattan,” he said, adding that the BOE was proud to have a “sufficient amount of affidavits” to provide for all voters.
Richman said Thursday’s counting of the absentee and affidavit ballots would include “two bipartisan members from each borough, a watcher and a note taker at the table to make objections to open or not open specific ballots.”
By Kamelia Kilawan on July 5, 2012, 12:54 pm
In category: Gotham City | 1 Comment »