Charlie Rangel Says He’s ‘Completely Baffled’ by Disputed Vote Count in His Congressional Race

rangelfeature Charlie Rangel Says Hes Completely Baffled by Disputed Vote Count in His Congressional Race

Congressman Charlie Rangel speaking at his election night party in Harlem.

Six days after election day and a premature declaration of victory for Rep. Charlie Rangel, there is still no official winner in the Upper Manhattan congressional race between Mr. Rangel and State Senator Adriano Espaillat. This afternoon, lawyers for both candidates are headed to New York State Supreme Court to address issues with the Board of Elections’ tabulation of the results in their congressional race and alleged instances of “irregular and possibly fraudulent returns from voting machines.” Mr. Rangel prepared for the legal battle by sending an email to his supporters saying he’s “completely baffled” by the situation and asking for donations to help him in the court fight.

“To my surprise, my opponent’s campaign pounced on me on Friday, saying that I had somehow stolen their votes! I’m completely baffled by the situation and the way my opponent has been reacting,” Mr. Rangel wrote. “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.”

The BOE initially told the press and both campaigns that unofficial results showed Mr. Rangel beating Mr. Espaillat with 16,252 voters or 45.7 percent to Mr. Espaillat’s 13,921 votes, 39.1 percent of the total with 100 precincts reported. These unofficial results do not include paper ballots cast by absentee voters and affidavit ballots submitted by those whose name is not on the voter rolls when they arrive at the polling place. It was subsequently discovered the Board of Elections did not count the votes from over thirty precincts in the district.

After a re-examination, the BOE released unofficial results on Saturday including votes cast in all of the district’s 506 precincts that show Mr. Rangel defeating Mr. Espaillat by a margin of just 802 votes. According to the BOE, Mr. Rangel received 18,075 votes, or 44.29 percent of the total cast, compared to Mr. Espaillat’s 17,273, 42.33 percent of the votes cast. According a BOE spokeswoman, as of this weekend there were 2,110 paper ballots cast in the race so far. The BOE will begin counting paper ballots on Thursday.

If the numbers provided by the BOE are correct this time, Mr. Espaillat would need to earn about 69 percent of votes from paper ballots when they are are counted next week. Though more absentee ballots may still come in and Mr. Espaillat’s supporters have claimed most of the paper ballots were cast in neighborhoods favorable to him, if these numbers are correct, it would be a tall order for Mr. Espaillat to earn enough of a majority of the paper ballots to take the win away from Mr. Rangel. However, if the paper ballots bring the margin to within 0.5 percent, all of the votes will be recounted. Not including paper ballots, Mr. Rangel’s margin of victory currently stands at 1.96 percent. Whatever happens, considering Mr. Rangel has spent more than forty years without losing his seat and Mr. Espaillat’s performance in this race was certainly impressive, leaving him in strong position to make another run in the district in 2014.

Read Mr. Rangel’s email full to supporters below.

By now, I’m sure you’ve heard that my race is completely not over. It’s been days since primary day, yet there are still votes to be counted.

To my surprise, my opponent’s campaign pounced on me on Friday, saying that I had somehow stolen their votes! I’m completely baffled by the situation and the way my opponent has been reacting.

As the Daily News reported, “State Sen. Adriano Espaillat’s campaign isn’t hiding its pleasure at the news that the Manhattan Supreme Court will hold a Monday hearing on the results of his election battle with incumbent Rep. Charlie Rangel.”

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.

Would you please consider making a contribution of $10.00 or more?

Your financial help will allow me to receive legal counseling for the bumpy roads ahead.

I will keep you posted. Thank you for being a friend.

Sincerely,
Charlie Rangel
Member of Congress