Alarmed by the shifting vote tallies that have turned Charlie Rangel’s apparent reelection into a court battle, legislative leaders say they want to fix the way city votes are counted. The operation needs to be totally computerized, rather than having a bungle-prone process that requires the city Board of Elections to count paper ballots by hand, said Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan). “That should definitely be something they do — just collect all the flash drives (from the voting machines) and bring them to [BOE] headquarters,” Silver said. “I don’t think you’ll change the outcomes as a result, but you’ll certainly know the results faster.”
The initial returns in the June 26 Democratic primary for the 13th Congressional District had Rangel up by some 2,300 votes, prompting his challenger, state Sen. Adriano Espaillat, to concede. When errors caused by poll workers copying voting-machine results by hand revealed the margin was much closer — 802 votes — Espaillat filed suit, alleging fraud and challenging the process. Critics of the Board of Elections say it could make changes on its own to have results tallied electronically, but board lawyers say state law would need to be amended.