After being heavily criticized for a recent bungled vote count, the city's Board of Elections is fighting back and blaming the media. But elections officials did not get much sympathy from the City Council at a hearing on the board's performance. NY1's Grace Rauh filed the following report.
It's an election night debacle that is turning up the heat on the New York City Board of Elections.
The BOE went before the City Council Wednesday to answer for its botched primary night results in the primary race for Rep. Charles Rangel's seat. The initial count showed Rangel with a wide lead but it narrowed significantly days later as more votes were counted. Accusations of voter suppression also hung over the results.
"This is the foundation of our democracy and I don't want excuses," said Councilwoman Jessica Lappin. "I want you to do your jobs well."
But at the City Council hearing, the city's top elections staff member, Dawn Sandow, made it clear that she did not think her team did anything wrong.
"Today gives me the opportunity to set the record straight on how well the board performed for the voters of New York City," Sandow said.
It was the press, she said, that did not do its job.
"Sadly, some members of the media no longer rely on facts or seem to expose the truth but rather seize on false and sensational allegations," Sandow said.
City council Speaker Christine Quinn seemed to be in disbelief over the high marks the board gave itself.
"I am concerned that you entered the analysis of the June federal primary with the mindset that you had done well," Quinn said.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is a frequent critic of the board, took another swipe at it. But he says it is ultimately up to Albany to change the system, which is controlled by the Democratic and Republican parties.
"I do feel strongly it is not well run," he said.
State Sen. Adriano Espaillat also came out to testify. He challenged Rangel in June. Confusion over the outcome of the race meant he delivered not one but two concession speeches.
"Much more needs to be done to ensure that elections are transparent," Espaillat said.
Espaillat says he is introducing legislation to reform the board.
The next test for the New York City Board of Elections is right around the corner. Voters will head to the polls on Thursday, September 13 to cast ballots in the New York State primary.