A state court will hold a hearing on Monday to address concerns that votes were tallied improperly in this Tuesday's Democratic primary, in which Representative Charles Rangel was declared the party's nominee. With absentee ballots and the votes from 32 precincts still uncounted, Rangel holds a 2.6 percent lead over his closest opponent, state senator Adriano Espaillat—a lead that has considerably shrunk since he declared his victory.
Espaillat's campaign appealed to the state supreme court in New York county.
When the New York Times called the race on Tuesday night, Rangel was ahead by about 20 percentage points. He finished the night with a narrower 5.4 percentage point lead. As of now—with about 8 percent of the district's votes uncounted—he has 16,898 votes to Espaillat’s 15,823 votes, a difference of only 1,075.
Espaillat's campaign said in a statement, "We are pleased with the Court’s decision to hold a hearing on the Board of Elections’ proceedings in the 13th Congressional District race. 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."
At a rally yesterday, City Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, an Espaillat ally, claimed that 3,174 affidavit ballots—absentee ballots and ballots cast by voters not on their polling place's voter rolls—had yet to be counted, mostly from neighborhoods he said were favorable to Espaillat, The Politicker reported. Rodriguez was not immediately available for comment and his claim could not be independently verified.
Espaillat, who represents Washington Heights in the state legislature, also attacked the BOE, saying in the statement that it continued to "stonewall" his campaign, which he said "has not been allowed to adequately monitor the Board of Elections’ proceedings, as required by law.” According to a notice from the board, any candidate or their representative may observe the canvassing of votes from poll sites as well as absentee and affidavit ballots. The canvassing of absentee and affidavit ballots will begin on June 5, according to the notice. A manual recount of paper ballots would take place if Rangel’s margin of victory decreased to less than half of a percentage point.
A spokesperson from the board did not respond to requests for comment Thursday or Friday.
Rangel spokesperson Ronnie Sykes said in a statement, "We are going through the process like we do after every election in order to ensure each vote is counted. We are confident that at the conclusion of this process we will be victorious."
Rangel, 82, has been in Congress since 1971. New York's 13th Congressional District was redrawn this year to include Harlem, Hamilton Heights, Washington Heights, Inwood, and the northwest Bronx. Columbia's medical campus and Manhattanville campus—though not its Morningside campus—also fall in District 13.