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Rangel's Lead Widens in Primary Ballot Count

Friday, July 06, 2012

Charlie Rangel Charlie Rangel (Stephen Nessen/WNYC)

Rep. Charles Rangel's lead over his Democratic primary challenger continued to widen Friday as the New York City Board of Elections spent a second day counting absentee and affidavit ballots.

Rangel was leading state Sen. Adriano Espaillat by 1,158 votes at midday Friday, up from 945 at the start of the day.

Rangel had an 802-vote margin before the count started Thursday.

The board expected to finish counting ballots by the end of the day.

Rangel campaign manager Moises Perez said the lead appeared to be insurmountable.

But Espaillat spokesman Ibrahim Khan said, "The tally will go up and the tally will go down. The most important thing is that we count every single vote in a transparent way. That's our singular focus as a campaign and that's what the voters deserve."

Thursday's efforts counted ballots from seven of the 10 state Assembly districts contained in the 13th Congressional District, which covers parts of Manhattan and the Bronx. Three districts were being counted Friday.

Also on Thursday, Bronx State Supreme Court Justice John Carter ruled that the city elections board can certify the tally for Rangel and Espaillat but can't transmit the result to the state Board of Elections until he approves it. That transmission is the final step to make an election result official.

Espaillat's attorney, Leo Glickman, charged in court that Espaillat voters had been improperly turned away from the polls.

But Rangel attorney Arthur Greig said Espaillat was just trying to slow the process down.

The parties are due back in court on Wednesday, one day before Espaillat must declare his candidacy if he plans to give up on the House race and run for re-election to his state Senate seat.

The congressional primary appeared decided last week on election night, with Rangel seemingly holding a sizable lead. But the vote margin shrank, leading some to wonder if Espaillat had conceded too soon.

On Friday, the Rangel campaign sent two attorneys, two political consultants, campaign manager Perez and nearly a dozen volunteers to monitor the counting. The Espaillat campaign sent roughly 15 volunteer observers to the elections board's lower Manhattan office.

No lawyers officially monitored the counting but did come to check in occasionally, Khan said.

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