In 2012, the Democratic primary in New York City’s 13th congressional district ended with Rep. Charlie Rangel just over 1,000 votes ahead of State Senator Adriano Espaillat after a contentious legal battle over disputed paper ballots, allegations of voter suppression, and discrepancies with the initial results announced by the Board of Elections. Espaillat is challenging Rangel again this year and voters head to the polls on Tuesday. In advance of election day, a group of New York City Council members sent a letter to the BOE in an attempt to prevent similar issues this time around.
“As you are aware, two years ago, voters in the 13th Congressional District faced difficulties when attempting to cast their vote due to a lack of bi-lingual poll workers available for assistance,” the Council members wrote. “In other cases, voters were directed to incorrect poll sites, further discouraging them from casting their ballot. Additionally, the district saw glaring inaccuracies in the vote counting process as the Election Day totals differed enormously just days after, when every vote had finally been counted.”
The letter, which was obtained by Business Insider on Monday, was sent to New York City BOE Executive Director Michael Ryan on June 19. It was signed by Council members Ydanis Rodriguez, Mark Levine, Ritchie Torres, and Steven Matteo. Three of those Council members; Rodriguez, Levine, and Torres, are backing Espaillat. Matteo has not made an endorsement in the race.
In the letter, the quarter of Council members referenced a discussion Ryan had with the City Council Government Operations Committee on May 30 regarding the problems that occurred on election day in 2012. The Council members said Ryan promised things would go more smoothly and they wanted to hold him to it.
“Your commitment to correct these issues was welcome but we would like to reinforce the points addressed: Poll sites must be staffed appropriate to the respective surrounding communities in terms of language assistance; there cannot be cases of misguided advice; and the vote counting must be transparent and accurate on the night of the election,” the Council members wrote. “We cannot disenfranchise our citizens from the invaluable right to vote; and any perceived or actual instances of this will reflect poorly not only on the Board of Elections but on our honored democratic system. We remain confident that the Board of Elections will take the necessary steps to rule out any discrepancies throughout the electoral process on June 24th and we thank you for your commitment to hold your agency to the highest standards.”
The Board of Elections did not respond to a request for comment from Business Insider.
View the full letter below.