Espaillat Withdraws Court Petition Over Vote Count For Now

State Senator Adriano Espaillat is temporarily withdrawing his request that the courts supervise the recount in his race to unseat Congressman Charles Rangel.

Espaillat’s lawyers got permission from a state Supreme Court justice Monday to withdraw their petition so they can refile later this week using broader legal arguments.

Ibrahim Khan, a spokesman for Espaillat, said this allows the campaign to keep its legal options open. "The primary goal is to make sure every single vote is counted in a transparent way. That's the only goal here. We'll do everything legally that we need to do to make that happen," he said.

    Rangel campaign manager Moises Perez said both sides want clarity, adding he's seen no evidence to suggest there's been a problem with transparency. "We are confident that the Board of Elections will do its job and will certify the winner."

    Espaillat conceded the race to Rangel last week, but over the weekend Rangel’s lead in the vote count shrunk to 802 votes. There are still about 2,000 absentee or other ballots to be counted.

    Prior to the court hearing, Espaillat said the issue was about fair elections. “We're under two percent right now and thousands of affidavit ballots are still to be counted.  So the legitimacy of the election is a play now.”

    The Board of Elections, meanwhile, has defended its process, saying it has followed the letter of the law. "This was acknowledged by Justice Mills in Supreme Court , New York County, who stated in open court that the Board’s procedures are more than sufficient to ensure the security for ballots," a BOE spokeswoman said in a statement. "We believe that the withdrawal of this proceeding today by counsel for Senator Espaillat indicates the baseless nature of the unsupported allegations contained in the papers that were filed in court."

    Chester Soria and the Associated Press contribute reporting