Welcome to the Florida of Upper Manhattan and the Bronx.
State Senator Adriano Espaillat, who had originally conceded the race against Congressman Charlie Rangel last Tuesday, clearly isn’t ready to go there just yet. At a packed press conference held in front of a senior center on 187th Street, Mr. Espaillat slammed the Board of Elections, lobbed allegations of voter suppression, and explained his plans going forward.
“Mayor Bloomberg said a couple days ago that this electoral process is easily corruptible, that, in fact, the Board of Elections is a board that the average New Yorker cannot trust,” Mr. Espaillat declared. “I agree with him.”
“Our country has to rely on an election process and an election system that is verifiable, that is transparent and brings about confidence to everybody,” he continued. “We cannot have a Florida type situation in New York State, it’s just impossible that in the northeast of our country, that we have a situation similar to what happened in Florida between Gore and Bush!”
Later this afternoon, his campaign will head to court to seek an injunction to allow more transparency in the tallying process. Describing the organization’s secrecy as illegal, Mr. Espaillat vowed to have every vote counted (for every candidate in the race, he stressed).
“If we cannot get relief in the process, we will go to the courts, and we will go to the final, final round, to ensure every vote … is counted, so that tomorrow, when the senior citizen or the young voter goes to the polls, they can be reassured that this democratic process works for them and not that it is rigged, or perhaps that there are backroom strategists put in place to prevent them from voting or to skew the results.”
Mr. Espaillat cited a number of what he described as “irregularities” on Election Day, including an unusual lack of bilingual inspectors, the absence mailed notifications alerting voters to the new Election Day date this year, and Spanish language speakers being handed affidavit ballots instead of regular ones.
“I have family members that were prime voters that go out to vote every single year, and when they went to vote, they were told this year that their name was not the list,” he said.
He also argued that the missing precincts came overwhelmingly from his base of support in the Latino communities of northern Manhattan and the Bronx, as opposed to the Harlem neighborhoods that favored Mr. Rangel.
“We had to beat up the Board of Elections to give us some level of answers, that 70 Electoral Districts came in at zero? That’s totally unacceptable in New York State. I thought that stuff happened in Florida or Mississippi somewhere, but not here,” he explained, adding later, “I believe it was 23 ED’s that were reported as zero in the Bronx. There were 24 ED’s right here in my original 72nd Assembly District where I represented for 13 years, 13 … in the 71st. And only 7 in Harlem and East Harlem.”
“I think that’s highly irregular.”