Board of Elections Defends its Policies as 13th District Race Count Continues

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A commissioner for the Board of Elections said at a meeting on Tuesday that there's still no winner in last week's primary race for the 13th Congressional district, where Charles Rangel’s lead against his nearest competitor has shrunk.

"There is no issue here about assigning a win to one candidate versus or another because we haven't certified the election," Commissioner Juan Carlos Polanco said.

The board still has a week to confirm the official tally, but that hasn't stopped State Senator Adriano Espaillat from challenging preliminary numbers that currently show an 802-point difference between him and incumbent Congressman Charlie Rangel.

After dropping their original petition on Monday, Espaillat's attorneys filed a new, broader request with the courts on Tuesday alleging voter suppression and intimidation on election day.

About 2,000 paper ballots still need to be counted, which includes absentee, military and affidavit votes. The board said that it would begin counting those votes on July 5.

Espaillat took the board to task on Monday morning for its counting process, as well as what the campaign alleged to be voter suppression due language barriers.

However, Polanco said that the board had yet to receive a formal complaint about translation failures at polling locations. Board attorney Steven H. Richman also told the commissioners that the only irregularly he had come across was the large request for absentee ballots in parts of northern Manhattan and Brooklyn.

The confusion in June's congressional primary has critics less than excited about the board's balloting plans for the September primaries and November general election.

"This is par for the course in New York," said Susan Lerner, executive director of good government advocates Common Cause New York. "This is an election where we only had a few primaries. Imagine how much worse this is going to be in September."