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.
The nullified ballots by themselves would not have changed the final results, but they add to a string of troubling questions about how the Board of Elections ran this primary. The News found, for example, that on election night, an astonishing 38% of the precincts in northern Manhattan reported either zero votes or the wrong counts for Espaillat, Rangel and three other minor candidates. In several precincts, the counts were off by hundreds of votes. That error rate was far higher than the 9% rate the Board claims is normal.