10:31 am Aug. 15, 2012
Celeste Katz got her hands on a letter of apology from a New York City Board of Elections Commissioner who inaccurately explained to the New York City Council why a staffer there was unable to cast a regular ballot during the June 26 congressional primary.
The allegation that the staffer had been prevented from casting the ballot was raised by Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez before, and during, a contentious hearing last week about the board's performance overseeing the vote and subsequent tally.
The hearing was called after election districts in State Senator Adriano Espaillat's stronghold initially were recorded as having accounted for zero votes in his congressional primary against incumbent Charlie Rangel, leading to allegations of systematic bias and disenfranchisement.
As I reported yesterday, B.O.E. commissioner J.C. Polanco denied the allegation that Council staffer Carmen De La Rosa was unable to vote normally. Polanco held up a piece of paper and told the Council, "Ladies and gentlemen, she voted. Her name was in the book. She signed the book. This is what we're dealing with. We're dealing with false allegations."
But immediately after the hearing, Polanco more or less conceded he was wrong. The paper he held up indicated that it was De La Rosa's mother, also named Carmen, who voted.
Polanco then said the younger de la Rosa was not a registered voter at all.
But that wasn't right either.
I published yesterday a "Notice of Approval" the younger de la Rosa received from the B.O.E. recently, indicating where she should go in order to vote.
In his letter yesterday, Polanco formally apologized for two mistakes: A) confusing the staffer with her mother at the hearing, and B) for the B.O.E.'s filekeeping.
It turns out a B.O.E. worker spelled the staffer's last name differently than the rest of her family's, so when the family went to vote, a poll worker wasn't able to find them all.
It was listed "under a much different variation of the spelling," Polanco wrote: They had it as "De la Rosa" while the rest of her family is listed as "Delarosa".
Here, courtesy of former Assemblyman Michael Benjamin, who also worked previously as a Board of Elections official, is a copy of the June 26 voter registration book, showing "Delarosa" having voted.
The good news in the case of the Carmen De La Rosa, in the end, may be that there was no nefarious plot to cheat her out of a vote. It was a boring bookkeeping error.