The battle between Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY) and state Senator Adriano Espaillat is moving to the courtroom, according to the New York Daily News.
Espaillat’s campaign has filed a lawsuit seeking a recount in the 13th Congressional District primary. Rangel was named the winner after the preliminary count on June 26, but his lead since then has decreased to just 802 votes, with more than 2,000 paper ballots left to be counted.
Since then, as ballots have continued to be counted, Rangel’s reported margin of victory has shrunk from 6 points on election night when reports gave him a 46 percent to 38 edge with 82 percent of precincts reporting. Espaillat’s campaign said at the time that they were not allowed to “adequately monitor” the count.
Espaillat’s lawyer, Martin Connor, has also accused local election officials of preventing him from requesting the paper-ballot count be stopped.
“It is apparent that the Board of Elections is attempting to try to prevent us from [claiming] our right to get a court to review the disputed ballots,” Connor told the Daily News. “Their excuse was they had to consult with their commissioners. Why do I have to wait for that?”
Rangel, who is seeking his 23rd term in office, denounced Espaillat’s accusations at a small rally in Harlem Wednesday.
“You can’t just call people crooks and say that they’re committing illegal acts,” Rangel said, adding that any problems with the voting shouldn’t be blamed on election workers.
“Don’t knock the system. It’s all we have,” he said. “Let us improve the system if it has to be improved.”