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Charles Rangel race takes chaotic turn
Politico ^ | June 30, 2012 | Alex Isenstadt

Posted on 06/30/2012 10:12:52 AM PDT by neverdem

NEW YORK — It’s been four days since Charlie Rangel’s primary.

And it’s still not entirely clear who won.

The veteran Democratic congressman might be the winner in New York’s 13th District, but no one really knows.

It’s a bizarre situation that just keeps getting weirder, a strange case of missing precincts, questionable ballots and utter confusion over who’s to blame for the mess and when the race might be settled.

(PHOTOS: Charlie Rangel's career)

What’s known is this: As of Friday evening, 32 precincts – six percent of all votes cast – had yet to be accounted for. And another 2,447 affidavit ballots and 667 absentee votes hadn’t been counted yet either. According to the city Board of Elections, Rangel’s lead over second-place finisher state Sen. Adriano Espaillat stood at 1,032 votes, with enough outstanding ballots to alter the outcome.

Naturally, the courts are now involved. On Friday, the state Supreme Court agreed to hear a lawsuit brought by the Espaillat campaign, asking it to examine the squirrelly vote-counting process. A hearing is scheduled for Monday.

Before things went off the rails, Tuesday night had been an evening of celebration and vindication for Rangel, who seemed to have survived the most serious reelection threat of his 42-year career in the House. After initial tallies showed the congressional titan jumping to a 20-point lead over Espaillat, Rangel took to the stage at Sylvia’s, the famed soul food institution located on Harlem’s Lenox Avenue, to declare victory and then party late into the evening with boisterous supporters.

But as Tuesday turned to Wednesday and more votes trickled in, something strange happened: Rangel’s margin of victory began to shrink, first to five points and then, by midday Wednesday, to two points.

(Also on POLITICO: Rangel's love for Obama unrequited)

After delivering a concession statement the previous night, Espaillat released a new statement Wednesday that suggested the race wasn’t yet settled. “Our message of bringing bold, new ideas to change Congress connected with voters, as demonstrated by our strong show of support and the voting results that continue to come in,” he said.

Not much has changed since then. And the race might remain in limbo for days, if not weeks. Valerie Vazquez, a spokeswoman for the New York City Board of Elections, said that with the July 4th holiday approaching, officials wouldn’t begin processing the affidavit and absentee ballots until the end of next week. And should the margin between the two candidates diminish to one-half of one percent or less of all votes cast, she said, the elections board would undertake a manual review of all ballots cast.

The spectacle — and the surrounding chaos — has the city’s political class staring in disbelief.

“The fact that we’re wondering who won the race at this point is a little silly,” said Doug Forand, a New York-based Democratic consultant whose firm worked for Espaillat. “It could end up being a long time before we know the outcome.”

“Between questions about vote totals and paper ballots, it’s enough to throw the race into question,” he added. “I think Rangel comes out on top, but at this point it’s no guarantee.”

The race continued to play out Friday, as election workers in three offices in New York City scrambled to reassess votes that had been cast three days earlier. At one office in lower Manhattan, officials hunched over computers in a heavily air-conditioned room, trying to determine whether voters who filled out affidavit ballots on Tuesday would be eligible for their votes to be counted.

At another location, election workers gathered in a cavernous, warehouse-like room and, one by one, uploaded memory cards from voting booths across the upper Manhattan congressional district onto computers in hope of coming to a final vote tally that, to this point, has been elusive.

How the fate of a congressman who was once one of the most powerful officials in Washington came to be decided under banana republic circumstances is a question that has baffled even seasoned New York pols.

“How can it be that two days after the primary, things are such a mess? Is this how a democracy functions?” Ruben Diaz Sr., a state senator from the Bronx who was neutral in the race, wrote in an essay published in local papers Friday. “Will this mean that from now on, candidates will have to wait two or three days before conceding the seat, or do we have to send the people from the Board of Elections to a counting and additions course?”

In an interview, Vazquez, the spokeswoman for the embattled Board of Elections, defended the office’s efforts, saying that it had simply followed the vote counting process as prescribed by city law.

The reason six percent of votes had not yet been tabulated, Vazquez said, is that the police officers tasked with providing an unofficial record of the data from those precincts after securing voting boxes on election night had not done so. Once election workers downloaded voting files from each precinct to reach an official total, Vazquez said, a complete count would be reached.

On Friday morning, Vazquez said a final tally would arrive by 2 p.m. that day. That hour, however, came and went without any results. By the end of the day, there was still no news.

While election workers continued the tedious task of reviewing ballots, there were indications that tensions between the Rangel and Espaillat camps were beginning to escalate.

From Espaillat’s backers came accusations that Rangel’s powerful supporters were influencing the vote counting, slowing the process and preventing the challenger’s side from receiving information. And they say they are particularly concerned about the remaining six percent of ballots that have yet to be counted – which, they contend, come from areas where the state senator receives the most support.

“It’s crazy,” said Espaillat chief of staff Aneiry Batista, who spent Friday watching officials download reams of voting data.

“I’m frustrated by the system,” she added. “They don’t want to give us answers.”

At the lower Manhattan elections office, monitors for both campaigns sat on opposite sides of a room, staring at each other and arguing as votes were examined in an office next door.

“They don’t care about the numbers that haven’t been counted,” Joe Louis, an Espaillat supporter, said in the direction of Rangel’s volunteers.

In his hand, Louis held a thick sheaf of papers showing voting data that, he said, had zeros for Espaillat in neighborhoods like Inwood and Washington Heights — places where the state senator has strong levels of support.

“You don’t know the statute,” a Rangel volunteer shot back.

Ethnic and racial tensions also are bubbling to the surface. Espaillat’s backers contend that many Hispanic voters had been turned away from the polls on Tuesday as they tried to cast ballots for the state senator, who is trying to become the first Dominican-American member of Congress. Leonel Fernandez, the president of the Dominican Republic, has reached out to Espaillat to see if he can offer any assistance, according to an Espaillat aide.

On Friday afternoon, a group of liberal activists had been scheduled to march in front of the Federal Election Commission in downtown Washington, protesting what they saw as a concerted effort to disenfranchise Hispanic voters in the race and to call on the office “to investigate claims of voter fraud and intervene in this disputed primary.”

So far, the candidates themselves have managed to keep a distance from the chaos. Espaillat has not made any public comments about the race since Wednesday, and Rangel simply shrugged when asked about the uncertainty in a Thursday TV interview.

“I’m not hearing anything because I’ve been on the floor, I’ve been at legislative meetings, I’ve been at caucuses,” he said.

If Rangel or his allies in Washington are concerned about him losing a race that seemed in the bag just a few days ago, they’re not showing any signs.

On Thursday afternoon, two days after the election, Rangel was seen walking into a Democratic caucus meeting with Michigan Rep. John Conyers, the longest-serving member of the same Congressional Black Caucus that Rangel co-founded.

“All hail the king!” Conyers said of Rangel.

John Bresnahan contributed to this report.

TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Front Page News; Politics/Elections; US: District of Columbia; US: New York
KEYWORDS: 2000absenteevotes; adrianoespaillat; charlesrangel; espaillat; newyork; notcounted; politicoobamasrag; rangel
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This wouldn't have happened if Rangel hadn't been wearing a hoodie.

21 posted on 06/30/2012 11:14:16 AM PDT by SunkenCiv (
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To: neverdem

Is it a case of “do it to others before they do it to you”? Got some of the voter fraud cleaned up in the upper northwest part of IN cause the candidate exposed each others methods of voter fraud.....Hmmm?

22 posted on 06/30/2012 11:16:11 AM PDT by hoosiermama ( Obama: " born in Kenya.".. he's lying now or then?)
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To: neverdem
Charles Rangel race takes chaotic turn

Being a dim and with a big a crook as Rangel, who didn't see this coming?

23 posted on 06/30/2012 11:23:54 AM PDT by The Sons of Liberty ("Get that bastard out of MY White House!")
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To: hoosiermama

The district is now 55% hispanic, wanna bet the AA’s tried to pull a fast one over the hispanics, if they have, all hell will break loose.

24 posted on 06/30/2012 11:31:36 AM PDT by sunmars
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To: neverdem
How the fate of a congressman who was once one of the most powerful officials in Washington came to be decided under banana republic circumstances is a question that has baffled even seasoned New York pols.

Yeah, right. When you consider things such as affidavit ballots, same day registration, the dead voting, people being bused in from outside the district to vote, all big Dem devices, it's not hard to figure out at all. They just don't want to talk about it because it's being used by both sides.

25 posted on 06/30/2012 11:34:52 AM PDT by bcsco
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To: neverdem
A Rangle win would nice. It gives us another bag of crook Democrat crap to point to and slaps the Hispanics in the face. Maybe, they'll see a Zimmerman to Espaillat connection, understand they don't mean anything to the Democrats and stay home.
26 posted on 06/30/2012 11:35:10 AM PDT by jmaroneps37 (Conservatism is truth. Liberalism is lies.)
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To: Bratch; neverdem

US-style democracy/constitutional republic depends on honor and integrity to run correctly.

Lacking those elements - anything is possible.

As we now see in every election.

27 posted on 06/30/2012 11:56:15 AM PDT by bluecat6 ( "A non-denial denial. They doubt our heritage, but they don't say the story is not accurate.")
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To: neverdem

What? Me Worry? It's in the bag.

28 posted on 06/30/2012 12:03:47 PM PDT by FlingWingFlyer (Dude! Where's my Constitution?!)
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To: Zakeet
I know that face!

I thought he was retired and enjoying life on the beaches of some banana republic somewhere?

29 posted on 06/30/2012 12:24:40 PM PDT by EGPWS (Trust in God, question everyone else)
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To: neverdem

Elections are now useless in the USA.

30 posted on 06/30/2012 12:27:13 PM PDT by Fledermaus (Democrats are dangerous and evil. Republicans are just useless and useful idiots.)
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To: neverdem

“Veteran democratic congressman” is liberalspeak for “lifetime parasite.”

31 posted on 06/30/2012 12:49:20 PM PDT by DPMD
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To: vette6387

See Dallas, too.

32 posted on 06/30/2012 1:34:07 PM PDT by La Lydia
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To: neverdem

When you cross incompetence with corruption....

33 posted on 06/30/2012 1:36:23 PM PDT by FreeAtlanta (Liberty and Justice for ALL)
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To: neverdem

“42-year career in the House”

Is EXACTLY 34 years too many IMO.

These leeches should be restricted to no more than 4 terms for the House, and 2 terms for the Senate.

Once they hit their term limit, they should be banned from lobbying, as well as holding any other appointed or elected public office.

34 posted on 06/30/2012 1:46:25 PM PDT by 2CAVTrooper ( For those who have had to fight for it, freedom has a flavor the protected shall never know.)
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To: neverdem
Missing precincts??? How many precincts are in Harlem anyway? And how do you lose some of them?

It's a House race, not statewide! Sheesh!

35 posted on 06/30/2012 1:48:53 PM PDT by Tanniker Smith (Rome didn't fall in a day, either.)
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To: neverdem

A nice bilateral, intra-party Rat-a-tat fight would be an entertaining spectacle indeed. Dem on Dem accusations of racism and cheating would be such a magnificient thing of beauty. Wish for it mightily.

36 posted on 06/30/2012 1:53:16 PM PDT by tflabo (Truth or tyranny)
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To: FlingWingFlyer

A perfect picture for a perfect corrupt ‘Rat.

Rangel makes Adam Clayton Powell look like a lesson in civic virtue and honesty.

37 posted on 06/30/2012 2:16:38 PM PDT by mkjessup (Finley Peter Dunne- "Politics ain't beanbag")
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To: mkjessup

They do resemble one another don’t they.

38 posted on 06/30/2012 2:20:05 PM PDT by FlingWingFlyer (Dude! Where's my Constitution?!)
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To: neverdem
As egregious a corrupt ‘Rat as Rep. Charlie Rangel is, the guy he replaced, Rep. Adam Clayton Powell, was just as corrupt and slimy. Powell had the good presence to die, but Rangel is the gift that keeps being regifted.

Powell here:,_Jr

39 posted on 06/30/2012 2:26:10 PM PDT by MasterGunner01 (11)
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To: neverdem

Buy the new Rangle Barbie Doll!

It says...”Stealing Elections is Hard Work!”

40 posted on 06/30/2012 2:53:27 PM PDT by LtKerst
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