If Only . . .

by Michael O. Allen on February 16, 2008

This story is scary. On election night, Sen. Hillary Clinton, (D-NY), was reported to have swept through New York. To put it mildly, the Empire state was said to be immune from the juggernaut Sen. Barack Obama, (D-IL), was becoming in the rest of the country.

Then comes this little story in the metro section of The New York Times today:

Black voters are heavily represented in the 94th Election District in Harlem’s 70th Assembly District. Yet according to the unofficial results from the New York Democratic primary last week, not a single vote in the district was cast for Senator Barack Obama.

That anomaly was not unique. In fact, a review by The New York Times of the unofficial results reported on primary night found about 80 election districts among the city’s 6,106 where Mr. Obama supposedly did not receive even one vote, including cases where he ran a respectable race in a nearby district.

City election officials this week said that their formal review of the results, which will not be completed for weeks, had confirmed some major discrepancies between the vote totals reported publicly — and unofficially — on primary night and the actual tally on hundreds of voting machines across the city.

In the Harlem district, for instance, where the primary night returns suggested a 141 to 0 sweep by Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, the vote now stands at 261 to 136. In an even more heavily black district in Brooklyn — where the vote on primary night was recorded as 118 to 0 for Mrs. Clinton — she now barely leads, 118 to 116.

The history of New York elections has been punctuated by episodes of confusion, incompetence and even occasional corruption. And election officials and lawyers for both Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton agree that it is not uncommon for mistakes to be made by weary inspectors rushing on election night to transcribe columns of numbers that are delivered first to the police and then to the news media.

Timesman Sam Roberts assures us that there’s little chance this was fraud. Local election officials have very little incentives to engage in this kind of chicanery, someone told him. They would steal votes in elections that concern them not in this kind of race.

He should try telling that to people who voted for Mr. Obama.

At the sprawling Riverside Park Community apartments at Broadway and 135th Street, Alician D. Barksdale said she had voted for Mr. Obama and her daughter had, too, by absentee ballot.

“Everyone around here voted for him,” she said.


At the Archive, a cafe and video store on the border of Bushwick and East Williamsburg, the manager, Brad Lee, agreed. “There were Obama posters in everyone’s windows,” he said. “There was even Obama graffiti.”

Let me ask this. . How would you feel if, let’s say you caught Obama-mania and rushed out and voted for him only to find out the next day that not a single person where you lived voted for him? And they wonder why people don’t vote anymore.

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