Calls for Election Investigation Here
Broken levers on voting machines have candidates crying foul.
By Robert Press
BRONX, NEW YORK, SEPTEMBER 16- After six days of pondering, and loosing his supporters day after day second place finisher in the Democratic Primary Bill Thompson has called it quits and conceded to front runner Bill deBlasio. This now clears a path for all Democrats to unite behind Bill deBlasio in his race for mayor against Republican Joe Lhota.
Our headline refers to the two great mayoral battles that ended with each candidate winning one race. Joe Lhota was a Deputy Mayor to Mayor Giuliani, while Bill deBlasio was an aide in the Dinkins administration. This election will be the rubber match of those two mayors with their disciples running this time.
There will however still be a run off election between Public Advocate candidates Brooklyn State Senator Dan Squadron and Brooklyn Councilwoman Letitia James as neither could win the race with over 40 percent of the vote needed to avoid the run off election. Now that it is 100 percent sure that there will be no run off for mayor it is anybody's guess how many people will come out to vote in this run off election.
There was however fireworks in one Bronx race, and it seems that trouble follows the 86th A.D. There was a special election to fill the vacant seat of Nelson “the Informant” Castro who stepped down after wearing a wire the past five years for the U.S. Attorney rather then be prosecuted for petition fraud in 2008. In this election there have been several charges made against candidate (and current vote leader) Victor Pichardo, State Senator Gustave Rivera, Bronx Democratic County Leader Carl Heastie, and even the Board of Elections by four of the candidates in the race. 86th A.D. Candidates Hector Ramirez, Yudelka Tapia, Haile Rivera, and Kenny Nunez jointly have sent letters to Governor Cuomo, the U.S. Attorney, New York City Department of Investigations, and the Civil Rights Bureau of the Attorney General of New York State. A copy of the letter and the full list of allegations, a photo of missing levers, and more can be found on my blog at www.100percentbronx.blogspot.com . There are several different postings in the archive section on the lower left index of the blog.
Wanting to be fair I stopped by the Bronx Board of Elections last Friday, the day that the re-canvassing of the voting machines began. These voting machines were secured with only a plastic zip-locking strip on the front and one one the back. Many of these voting machines stayed in polling sites and were not picked up until midnight Thursday two days after the election. When myself and other watchers were allowed into the storage room where the Bronx voting machines were, we noticed that all the front plastic strips had been cut. This was not the case as was reported on NY1 where the plastic strips were cut in front of those who were watching at the Manhattan Board of Elections.
I stopped by later Friday and called on Monday State Senator Gustavo Rivera's office for any comment by State Senator Rivera. On Friday, Senator Rivera was not in, and a promised statement from Senator Rivera on Friday & again on Monday did not come in time of my deadline which I had been able to extend. Patrick Jenkins the political spokesman for Bronx Democratic County Leader Carl Heastie in an interview said that these were complaints by a bunch of sore losers. He added that how do we know that those candidates themselves did not break any levers, and said that some of them were doing what they accuse others of doing.
On another note I asked Mr. Jenkins for his opinion of the low percentage of victory in some races such as 40 percent in the Mayor's race, that the Public Advocate race which did not produce a winner over 40 percent (and is going to a run off election), the 15th City Council race where Ritchie Torres won with only 34 percent, and in the 86th A.D. where Victor Pichardo was winning with only 22 percent of the vote. Mr. Jenkins replied with the increased number of candidates the winning percentage should go down proportionality. Overall it was a good election day for the Bronx Democratic County organization as every county backed candidate other than Bill Thompson did not lose.
I received a late phone call right before my deadline that indeed there was going to be an investigation of the Special Election in the 86th A.D. One of my usually reliable sources outside the 86th A.D. said that the Bronx Democratic County organization would be under investigation (but not what for), State Senator Gustavo Rivera for electioneering inside poll sites, and some of the candidates (again with no target). As to who or which agency was going to do the investigating, I was told to take my pick. Let's hope this does not get ugly or take five years to find the answers out.
Don't forget to check my blog at www.100percentbronx.blogspot.com for daily updates on the 86th A.D. race, as it may take weeks or even months to declare a winner in this race that Mr. Victor Pichardo holds a slim 72 vote lead. Also look for other items that did not make it into this column like the naming of New York Ranger great Mark Messier as CEO of the new Kingsbridge National Ice Center, The upcoming Liberty Democratic Association meeting Sunday September 29th, and the photos that were taken of the events.
If you have any comments about this column or would like to have an event listed or covered in this column or on my blog you can e-mail uis at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 718-644-4199 Mr. Robert Press.