Council Holds Hearing to Review June Primary Snafus

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With a little more than a month before the September 13 primary, the City Council is holding an oversight hearing Wednesday to assess problems that arose with the vote count during the most recent primary in June.

The Board of Elections faced criticism for failing to report results from all precinct on primary night in the 13th Congressional race between Congressman Charles Rangel, state Senator Adriano Espaillat and four other challengers.  

Rangel went on to narrowly win the contest.

At press conference on the steps of City Hall before the hearing, Espaillat said he plans to call for an overhaul of the Board of Elections when he testifies at the hearing.  

He insists the body charged with running elections neglected to provide the necessary resources to public to guarantee full language access - particularly translators and bilingual poll watchers - to ensure that people who wanted to vote were ably assisted at the poll sites.

"New York is a protected county," said Espaillat, referring to its status under the Federal Voting Rights Act, which requires any changes to the administration of elections be approved by the Department of Justice. That includes ensuring sufficient resources are onsite to ensure all voters have full language access, argued Espaillat.

That issue is at the heart of a complaint that was filed by the Latino Justice PRLDEF according to the organization's president Juan Cartagena. He said the organization informed the DOJ of at least 60 complaints where voters encountered problems voting.  

Though voter suppression is not the issue being investigated by the DOJ, Cartagena insists it provides context and perhaps demonstrates the implications of lack of language support.