A few days ago, I noted the irony in the unfolding controversy involving the results from the New York Democratic primary. At a time when Democrats around the country, including Attorney General Eric Holder, have been vociferously claiming there is no such thing as voter fraud in the United States and that efforts to uphold the integrity of elections are a form of racism, the senior member of the Congressional Black Caucus appears to have engaged in a variety of forms of fraud himself. The latest results from the June 26 election show Rep. Charles Rangel holding a more than 900-vote edge on challenger Adriano Espaillat. But Espaillat is screaming bloody murder over the way Rangel’s party establishment followers may have cooked the results.
Rangel’s people disqualified hundreds of ballots from presumed supporters of Espaillat as well as a number of other dirty tricks aimed at keeping the ethically challenged incumbent in office. But the latest twist shows the brazen nature of the plot to commit fraud. According to the New York Daily News, a few days before, city election workers engaged in some slippery manipulations that helped Rangel:
Timothy Gay, the deputy chief clerk for Manhattan’s Board of Elections — and the person currently supervising the count of the votes in the Manhattan part of the 13th Congressional District — held a meeting in Harlem with key Rangel campaign operatives, and with district leaders supporting Rangel.
Asked about the meeting, Gay said he attended at the request of state Assemblyman Keith Wright, the Manhattan Democratic chairman, to provide “district leaders with lists of their Democratic inspectors assigned to their specific districts” and to “discuss election matters in general.”
So why did candidate Rangel’s campaign staffers attend, while no Democratic district leaders who supported Espaillat were invited?
The answer to that question is obvious. The chutzpah displayed here is breathtaking. The New York Democratic Party wasn’t content to just steal the election for Rangel; they actually held a meeting with the officials charged with ensuring a fair result to make sure it was crooked. As the News concludes:
Everyone knew the entire Democratic Party leadership of the Bronx and Manhattan was behind Rangel. But it is now clear that the Board of Elections had a horse in the race, too, which is why any count the board produces needs to be checked — and then double-checked.
But, of course, the problem of voter fraud, whether committed by individuals acting at the behest of campaigns or efforts to alter the results by officials, is real. Politicians and their supporters have been trying to steal elections in the United States since before there was a United States. Cheating takes place in the country as well as urban settings. Republicans have done it and so have Democrats. And you can be sure that in any place where those charged with monitoring the vote are in the pocket of those running for office the results cannot be trusted.
That is why all efforts to ensure the integrity of the vote, be it by requiring voter ID or measures seeking to prevent the kind of fraud practiced by Rangel’s supporters is not only not racist, it is absolutely necessary to protect American democracy.