Charges of Voter Intimidation in Espada Campaign
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
At P.S. 33 in the Bronx WNYC's Beth Fertig found reports of voter intimidation in the race to re-elect Bronx State Sen. Majority Leader Pedro Espada Jr.
In this heated campaign, Pedro Espada Jr., the State senate majority leader, is under investigation by state and federal authorities for allegedly siphoning public dollars out of his health-care clinics for personal use, for his campaigns. His challenger, Gustavo Rivera, a political science professor, has received support labor groups who have been giving him a strong challenge.
There are allegations from the Rivera campaign that Espada's workers are intimidating voters -- specifically, that people are being questioned at Bronx apartment buildings, being asked who they're voting for by security guards and not being allowed to vote if they're voting for Rivera.
There's another charge that Espada's son was in P.S. 33 campaigning for his father. A poll worker told WNYC that indeed his son was here this morning and that police had to escort him out of the building. When WNYC asked the state senator whether these allegations were true, he got very indignant and said that he did not have any knowledge of these things, and that he was more concerned about the rights of the elderly, and senior citizens in particular, whom he thought were being disenfranchised by this new voting system.
He was very upset about the paper ballots. But WNYC did not witness any problems at this poll site in the Bronx. A few people said it's difficult to read, but everyone seems to be having an easy time voting.
And although this is not illegal, WNYC did witness workers for Espada's campaign handing out school supplies to people on the street, asking, "Have you voted yet? Vote for Pedro Espada. Here, take some school supplies."
They were giving out bags of notebooks, pens and folders.
Several women said they voted for Espada because he gives so much to the community, he gives away supplies, he gives food out, and they like and consider him one of them. WNYC asked if they were troubled by the allegations against Espada for breaking the law and they said, "No no no, that’s not fair. We like him, we know him."
But a few other voters said, "Well, times have changed and we've got to elect someone new."