“In 1972, in a June primary — and believe me, I was there — between Allard Lowenstein and John Rooney for Congress in Brooklyn, there were hundreds of people turned away from the polls,” former Senate Minority Leader Marty Connor, who served as State Senator Adriano Espaillat’s attorney when he was contesting his election against Rep. Charlie Rangel, recalled on Capital Tonight last night.
He added, “The lines were incredibly long, people were still voting in some election districts, in my neighborhood in Brooklyn Heights, at two in the morning, which meant that they had been in line since nine at night.”
Mr. Connor said that sole memory of a congressional primary being actually thrown out is evidence of the intense level of irregularities needed to actually contest the results just based off Election Day insanity. Additionally, he said the legal effort needed to actually pursue such an outcome is similarly intense.
“That court case, based on some irregularities and the general chaos of Election Day, and hundreds of voters being turned away from the polls, …. the trial of that took all of July and most of August, the decision didn’t come until September 1st, then the appeal six days later reversed the judge and ordered a new election for later in September,” he said. “So proving that kind of case is by no means easy. It’s incredibly expensive and time consuming.”
Furthermore, in Mr. Espaillat’s case, the numbers just didn’t add up. Although the candidate brought allegations of voter suppression in his petition to the court, Mr. Connor stated that the law requires a very high threshold to overcome Mr. Rangel’s lead of over 1,000 votes.
“The court standards is such that you have to find five or six or seven times the number of irregularities as the margin, and that would be very difficult,” he said, adding later, “The key figure here is the margin, if the margin had shrunk, then you’d have a better chance, legally.”