In NYC, It Ain't Over Even When It's Over

New York City Public Advocate and contender for the Democratic nomination for mayor of New York, Mark Green, right, greets 6-year-old Sarah Listwon
The final tally from last week's Democratic mayoral primary is in, but threats of a lawsuit and the second-place finisher's refusal to concede could keep the results at the center of controversy for some time.

A final audit of the votes cast in last week's runoff shows Public Advocate Mark Green with a 19,000-vote advantage over Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer.

Final vote totals were 391,297, or 51 percent, for Green and 372,249, or 49 percent, for Ferrer. The total vote had diminished from about 805,000 to about 763,000.

They are vying to succeed Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who was barred from seeking a third four-year term by a term limits law.

The Rev. Al Sharpton, a civil rights activist, said he planned to file a lawsuit by Wednesday calling for a new runoff or a federal review because election rules may have been violated.

Thousands of votes were mistakenly entered twice in the unofficial count. Those results are gathered and entered by the Police Department, which transmits them to The Associated Press. The AP tabulates the numbers and distributes them to newspapers and broadcasters.

On Friday the AP began an audit of the results and began to detect errors when it compared the paper canvass sheets from each election district with the numbers that had been entered Thursday night.

There were more than 50,000 paper and absentee ballots as well but many of them are subject to challenge and since they tend to reflect the machine vote they are unlikely to affect the outcome.

The Board of Elections has not yet begun its official tally of the votes. Those results are due Oct. 23.

Rep. Charles Rangel, who had endorsed Ferrer before Thursday's runoff, and Sharpton said Monday that the consolidation of some election districts — the ones where results were counted twice — may have violated federal election rules.

"Our Democratic leaders have to recognize that this (the minority vote) is not a vote that should be taken for granted," Rangel said after the closed meeting in Harlem.

Sharpton said that under the Voting Rights Act, the consolidation should have been approved by the federal government before being used in New York.

He said the lawsuit would also claim that the double-counting and the alleged early publicizing of exit poll results had skewed the election.

"When you hear in mid-afternoon that Green is ahead by 10 points, that tends to suppress the Ferrer vote," said Sharpton, who had endorsed Ferrer.

Joe Lenski, executive vice president of Edison Media Research, which conducted exit polls for several clients on Thursday, said he knew of no release before the polls closed except for an Internet site that was not entitled to use the results and did not honor the 9 p.m. embargo.

Ferrer, who had conceded on Thursday, backtracked when the margin narrowed, saying that while he was committed to supporting the Democratic nominee, "We don't know who that nominee is."

Green, however, insiste Monday that he was "looking forward to a formal certification of what is unofficially known now, that I'm the Democratic nominee for mayor."

The winner faces Republican Michael Bloomberg, a multi-millionaire businessman, in November.

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