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We know who won, but why did it take so long?

ELINOR TATUM Publisher and Editor in Chief | 7/12/2012, 2:33 p.m.
When guidance counselors need to care

In an age of instantaneous information, why is it that the New York City Board of Elections still can't get it right, and in a timely fashion?

This year's Democratic congressional primary was a complete fiasco from the start. It began with the fact there were no notices sent out to the public, coupled with a June election date that was so far from the September norm that many were completely unaware of the change. Moreover, many people were in new voting districts and did not even know it.

To make matters even worse, the New York City Board of Elections said: "Not my problem." They told this newspaper that it was not their responsibility to let the public know when the election was, because it was a federal election. From the outset, there was no accountability.

Then we had an important congressional election that was being watched from around the country--in fact, from around the world--for a seat Charles B. Rangel has held for over 20 years. For the first time since 1970, there was going to be a real contest and at the end of day, when we thought the votes were all counted, Rangel was the winner and Adriano Espaillat conceded.

But days later, after apparent voting irregularities, affidavit and absentee votes were still being tallied and the congressman's lead had shrunk. Some say the irregularities were human error. Others say some voters just did not know that their district had changed. But in the end, after two weeks of uncertainty, Rangel remained the winner, with 990 votes to spare. Espaillat dropped any court challenges and conceded for the second time to the lion that is Charles Rangel.

Finally, Rangel won again--but why was the process so hard? What had the Board of Elections done, or not done for that matter, to ensure that voting took place fairly?

Their new voting machines are not the gold standard they are supposed to be. Human error is still a huge factor in the tallying of votes and in the end, there were too many mistakes to be ignored. The Board of Elections is there to provide a service for the people of New York, yet it seems the job they have is not taken seriously enough.

We need the Board of Elections to get the job right. The future of our representation depends on it. How can we be an informed electorate with the real possibility of participation if we are not told when and where to vote because it is "not their job"? Even when we do vote, our ballots are not processed.

We need a change. We need an accurate and a timely count--in more ways than one.