N.Y. Rep. Charlie Rangel’s win in last Tuesday’s primary has gone from solid to tentative.
State Sen. Adriano Espaillat, Rangel’s opponent in the Democratic primary, challenged the vote-counting process in the 13th District, alleging Monday that voters were improperly turned away from the poll — including members of his own family, according to the New York Post.
But Espaillat withdrew a legal challenge against the city Board of Elections procedures Monday, and instead plans to refile under a different statute, according to the New York Daily News.
The Rangel and Espaillat campaigns did not immediately return requests for comment.
When Rangel declared victory, and Espaillat conceded, the incumbent was seemingly ahead by more than 2,300 votes.
But it turned out that a whopping 79 out of 506 precincts were initially entered by mistake into the system as having cast zero votes, according to the New York Daily News.
With those errors corrected, Rangel’s lead shrunk Sunday to just 802 votes, according to the New York Times. And there are still more ballots outstanding than the margin in the race — meaning it’s possible Rangel could lose.
New York City Board of Elections communication director Valerie Vasquez told TPM before the Monday court hearing that the validation process for the provisional ballots has already taken place. That involves the board’s bipartisan staff checking each ballot to ensure that a voter was properly registered within that district and for the party primary. The process yielded 1,058 ballots in Manhattan, and 212 in the Bronx. Elections officials will begin to count the votes this Thursday, July 5.
Because absentee ballots were only required to be postmarked on Election Day last week, some are still pouring in. More than 700 absentee ballots have come in from Manhattan, and fewer than 200 have come from the Bronx.
“Though many people want this information immediately, the commissioners at the Board of Elections will not certify this election until every vote that was cast is counted,” said Vasquez.
The Rangel campaign is also busy fundraising off the dispute. He told supporters in an email Monday: “I don’t know what will transpire in the coming days, but one thing is clear: I need your help to prepare myself for another battle — whether it’s a legal battle with the Board of Elections or with my opponent.”