After the hullaballoo over reporting primary-night results in the NY-13 race, the board commissioners voted today to have the flash drives (aka “memory sticks”) that capture results from electronic voting machines transported to police precincts and downloaded directly into BOE laptops. The change will, it’s hoped, avoid the lost in addition/transfer problems that led state Sen. Adriano Espaillat to prematurely concede to incumbent Rep. Charlie Rangel the night of the June 26 Democratic contest. Bronx GOP Commissioner J.C. Polanco, who lobbied heavily for a change from the old cut-and-add system, called it “a good day. “I think New Yorkers are going to appreciate having accurate tallies at the end of the night. I think that working closely with the NYPD, we’ll be able to get it done and make sure that the numbers that are reflected in the unofficial results are close to the results on the scanner,” Polanco, who’s presumably still waiting for that apology from Espaillat, told The Daily Politics. Under the new plan, cops will take the memory sticks back to precincts, where BOE staffers (under bipartisan supervision) will dump the results into the computers. The change will cost about $300,000 in new laptops. “The good thing about this proposal is that it eliminates the potential for human error that is present when we have our co-workers tallying results at the end of the night and doing data entry back at the precincts,” Polanco said. “That’s why I’m excited about it and that’s why I’m happy it passed unanimously.”
New York: Voting machines in the primary between Charlie Rangel and Adriano Espaillat didn’t count hundreds of votes | NY Daily News
More than 500 votes in the controversial Democratic primary contest between Charlie Rangel and Adriano Espaillat were never counted for any of the candidates. A Daily News review of official precinct-by-precint results for the 13th Congressional District shows that electronic vote scanning machines the Board of Elections has used for the past two years failed to record any voter choice on 436 ballots. Those nullified ballots represent 1% of all votes cast in the race — a significant figure, given that Rangel won by only a 2% margin. The Board of Elections discarded another 78 write-in votes as “unattributable” to any candidate, The News’ review found. It defies logic that 514 people went to the polls in this hotly-contested race and voted for no one. The biggest number of both “unrecorded” votes (104) and “unattributable” write-ins (20) came in the 72nd Assembly District in Washington Heights/Inwood, where insurgent candidate Espaillat had the most support.
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 near-meltdown in the vote count for the New York Democratic primary featuring scandal-tarred congressman Charlie Rangel should serve as a warning siren about what could happen in this November’s national election. It’s not just voter fraud we have to worry about. Sometimes it’s hard to tell where the fraud ends and the incompetence begins. The Rangel fiasco reminds us that the United States has, as Walter Dean Burnham, the nation’s leading political scientist, put it, “the developed world’s sloppiest election systems.” And New York City is no unsophisticated backwater. The troubles in the Rangel race began on Election Night, June 26. The voting-machine totals put down on paper had the incumbent beating his challenger, state senator Adriano Espaillat, by a comfortable 2,300 votes in a Harlem district that is now equally divided between black and Hispanic populations. But after the voting-machine totals were sent to a computer, the Rangel lead melted to 802 votes; a partially completed recount has boosted his lead to 945 votes.
Vote counting in the fierce congressional battle between incumbent Charlie Rangel and his insurgent challenger Adriano Espaillat is no longer a matter of the usual incompetence of the Board of Elections. Troubling signs have now emerged that some officials at the board crossed the line in an all-out effort by the Democratic Party establishment to ensure a Rangel victory, and that the board’s staff wrongly disqualified hundreds of paper ballots. Board officials began their tally Thursday of some 2,600 paper ballots. Those are either mail-in absentee votes or “affidavit” ballots from people who went to the polls last week but were told their name was not on the rolls. That count showed Rangel increasing his slim 807-vote overall lead by another 131 votes, although Espaillat’s main base area of Washington Heights and Inwood has yet to be counted. But until now, no one has mentioned more than 2,000 additional paper votes the board’s staff tossed out this week as invalid.
Voters in the 13th congressional district went to the polls in Manhattan and the Bronx more than a week ago, but votes in the Democratic primary race for Congressman Charles Rangel’s seat were still being counted Thursday. New numbers showed Rangel’s margin growing to a lead of 945 votes over his chief rival, state Senator Adriano Espaillat. “It seems that both sides are cooperating with each other and with the board and we are making good progress,” said Board of Elections counsel Steven Richman. It could take a couple of days to count all of the more than 2,000 absentee and affidavit ballots in the race. BOE officials began opening them in Greenwich Village on Thursday morning.
What at one point looked like a big primary night victory for Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) has gradually become a close race — enough so that Rangel’s opponent is now filing for a possible do-over election. State Sen. Adriano Espaillat this week filed with the state Supreme Court seeking either a recount or a highly unusual redo of his June 26 primary with Rangel. Espaillat has lodged accusations of voter suppression and has pointed to faulty administration and vote-counting by New York City elections officials. Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., salutes surviving members of the Montford Point Marines, during a Congressional Gold Medal ceremony at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, June 27, 2012. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais — Associated Press) The race appeared over and done last Tuesday night, with Rangel holding a double-digit lead in early returns. He delivered a victory speech, and Espaillat conceded. As the night wore on, though, Espaillat closed the gap significantly, and a continuing manual counting of the ballots now has Rangel up just 802 votes out of nearly 40,000 cast. A couple thousand absentee ballots still have yet to be counted.
While contesting Rep. Charles Rangel’s primary congressional victory, lawyers for Sen. Adriano Espaillat raised eyebrows Monday by floating the possibility of a redo election. At the moment, with a couple of thousands ballots left to be counted, Espaillat’s camp is holding its powder. But if Rangel’s lead — now standing at 802 votes — keeps shrinking, Espaillat could ask the courts to order a new vote. The campaign said it filed a petition asking for a re-vote Tuesday, but only to keep its options open in case it finds irregularities, since there’s a 10-day statute of limitations on such claims. Such a redo scenario would be highly unusual in New York. But it’s not unheard of in disputed primary races. “It’s granted in extraordinarily rare situations,” said Jerry Goldfeder, a veteran Democratic election attorney. A razor-thin margin, alone, isn’t enough to warrant a do-over. Under state election law: “The court may direct reassembling of any convention or the holding of a new primary election, or caucus where it finds there has been such fraud or irregularity as to render impossible a determination as to who rightfully was nominated or elected.”
A national Hispanic civil rights group is asking the Department of Justice to investigate alleged voter suppression in the Democratic primary in the 13th congressional district. The group, LatinoJustice PRLDEF, has sent a letter to the DOJ voicing concern that Spanish-speaking voters found it difficult to cast ballots because they were unable to receive Spanish-language assistance and were turned away, or were told to vote by affidavit ballots, according to a statement by the organization. The appeal to the DOJ by LatinoJustice, which recently was among several voter advocacy groups that sued Florida over its decision to target more than 2,600 registered voters whose citizenship was questionable, comes as veteran U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel has seen his lead over the runner-up dwindle to slightly more than 800 votes. Some 2,000 absentee and affidavit ballots remain to be counted; the result is expected to be announced Thursday.
There’s a bit of a worm in the apparent Big Apple primary victory of storied Rep. Charlie Rangel (D). Rangel originally appeared to have beaten his top competitor, state Sen. Adriano Espaillat, by a wide margin. The New York City Board of Elections now says that with normal ballots counted, Rangel is up by only 802 votes, or about 2 percent of votes cast. But with more than 2,000 other paper ballots, such as provisional and absentee (from city voters as well as military service members overseas), as yet uncounted, his margin could shrink. The results are still unofficial and there is a possibility, if very slight, that Rangel didn’t actually win the election. Or, at least, that there could be a recount.
Supporters of State Senator Adriano Espaillat are calling for a federal monitor to step in and oversee the counting of votes in his congressional race against longtime Congressman Charlie Rangel after reports of uncounted votes emerged yesterday. Mr. Rangel was initially declared the victor by the Associated Press and in unofficial totals from the Board of Elections after the election on Tuesday, but the AP subsequently published a report claiming results from 33 of the 506 precincts in the Upper Manhattan district remained uncounted. Mr. Espaillat’s supporters announced their push for a federal monitor at a press conference in front of Mr. Rangel’s office in Harlem where some of the attendees also made allegations of voter fraud at the polls Tuesday. “I’m here today to call for a federal monitor on the Board of Elections. It is unacceptable that 48 hours after the elections took place….we don’t have the outcome of this election,” said Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, a close ally of Mr. Espaillat’s. “We also have a lot of concerns that still the Board of Elections has not received [results from] a number of election districts. We don’t know where they are, they don’t know where they are.” Though Mr. Rodriguez did not provide specific numbers or locations of the precincts where votes remain uncounted, he said most of these precincts are in areas favorable to Mr. Espaillat inside his State Senate district.