While Rep. Charles Rangel of New York celebrates a major primary victory this week - his toughest challenge in 42 years - the state is stepping in on ballot complaints that could wind up changing the results.
New unofficial numbers released Saturday night by the New York City Board of Elections show Rangel ahead of his main challenger, state Sen. Adriano Espaillat, by only two percentage points - 44% to 42% - with just 802 votes separating them and more than 3,000 votes unaccounted for.
The figures come after Espaillat's campaign filed a lawsuit contending too many ballots were left outstanding in Tuesday's election.
"Three days after a winner was declared in this election, there are still votes to be counted," the Espaillat campaign said in a statement Friday. "Our campaign has not been allowed to adequately monitor the Board of Elections' proceedings, as required by law."
The state Supreme Court decided Friday to hold a hearing on the election results, which is on the docket for Monday, according to the court system.
Espaillat conceded defeat to Rangel Tuesday night, as tallies showed the 21-term Democratic congressman had netted about 45% of the vote, compared to Espaillat at 40%, in a multi-candidate race.
The new two-percentage-point margin includes votes cast in electronic voting machines during Tuesday's primary.
According to the board's spokeswoman, Valerie Vazquez, there are 3,270 votes to sort through from affidavits and absentee ballots -- a tally that could potentially swing the results.
That figure includes 2,494 affidavits, which consist of paper ballots from those whose names were not on voter register lists at respective polling sites, and therefore ineligible to vote on a machine. The board has to first verify that those names are in fact registered before their votes can be added to the final count.
Vazquez said 776 absentee ballots also remain outstanding. The total sum of additional votes will not be finalized until after Thursday, she added. Only then will there be an official margin.
"Our policy and procedures require a manual hand count if the margin of victory is less than one half of a percentage point," Vazquez told CNN.
Espaillat, a 57-year-old Dominican-American, has used his background to court Latino votes and take aim at the 82-year-old Rangel over his long tenure in Washington and his ethics abuses. If he had won Tuesday, he would have been the first Dominican-American elected to Congress.
Rangel campaign spokeswoman Ronnie Sykes had no comment on the upcoming hearing. Rangel's new district - the state's 13th Congressional District - stretches from East Harlem to the northwest Bronx.