Board of elections recount in too-close-to-call 86th Assembly District primary

Assemblyman Victor Pichardo

A recount is now underway in a razor-thin close primary election for a west Bronx assembly district.

With unofficial primary night results showing a margin of just 11 votes separating challenger Hector Ramirez and incumbent Assemblyman Victor Pichardo in the 86th Assembly District, the New York City Board of Elections began a recount of paper ballots on Wednesday, September 17 after the appropriate amount of time elapsed under state election law.

“The bi-partisan team will begin opening all the paper ballots, meaning affidavits, military, absentees,” said Valerie Vasquez, a spokeswoman for the New York City Board of Elections. “By election law, we have to wait a certain number of days so we have ample time to receive absentee ballots that were postmarked by the deadline. Then the staff has to do their due diligence verifying that they are in fact registered voters in the correct district.”

The process is open to the candidates and the public, she explained.

The counting of paper ballots is necessary because of the very close margin, with Ramirez gaining 1764 votes and Pichardo with 1753 votes, with 95% reported, according to Board of Elections unofficial primary night results. The primary election was held on Tuesday, September 12.

This is a particularly charged recount because of allegations of fraud against Pichardo by Ramirez in a close race between the two candidates in 2013. These charges included allegations of missing levers on machines for certain candidates, including Ramirez.

The Bronx Democratic Party machine and all of the union support went for Pichardo, said Ramirez, who also said he is confident that he will be declared the winner.

“He had the support of other elected officials, the political machinery in the Bronx, union support and had all the money, and I am ahead,” said Ramirez, adding “already, we have won this election.”

He said his opponent does not want to accept the results. Ramirez said he had the support of the community, and community- based organizations.

“For me, the most important thing for me was the support of the community,” said Ramirez. “I did not pay anybody, everyone worked as a volunteer. And I made it with the community. I don’t want to owe my soul to any powerful interests.”

Pichardo said, in a statement, that he was very thankful to have had the opportunity to serve the residents of the 86th Assembly District, which includes University Heights, and parts of Fordham and Kingsbridge Heights. He too was confident of his victory.

During the past eightmonths, he said that he had been able to accomplish a “great deal,” including “expanding early education programs for our children and fighting to improve our City’s affordable housing.”

“I am confident that my neighbors have again chosen me as their representative in Assembly and I am energized by the support I have received from our community, elected officials, unions and my family,” said Pichardo. “While the election, at the moment, is too close to call, I am optimistic that I will be declared the winner of this race and that the Board of Election will work diligently to sort through all the dirty tactics my opponent deployed to intimidate voters on Election Day to accurately determine who the voters have chosen to represent them. In the mean time, I will continue to serve my community, focus on the issues that matter most, and be committed to building a better and stronger Bronx.”

Reach Reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 742–3393. E-mail him at procc‌hio@c‌ngloc‌al.com. Follow him on Twitter @patrickfrocchio.

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