(CNN) - 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.
"Four days after polls closed, we finally have a preliminary vote count, excluding thousands of paper ballots. With each new tally, Senator Espaillat's vote total increases. As paper ballots begin to be counted and this dead-heat race continues, we are grateful to all of our supporters and will continue to push for full transparency in counting every single vote," said Espaillat's spokesperson Ibrahim Khan in a statement.
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 could have been on the way to being 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.
– CNN’s Ashley Killough, Dan Verello, Jason Kessler and Gabriella Schwarz contributed to this report.
It would be nice to see that every votes counts. The question is about Rangel winning; was it done legally? I hiope soe.
Not another hanging chad issue!
If it walks like a duck......
Let voters decide
This just means that the total of the uncounted ballots could swing theoretically swing the election from Rangel to his challenger. The uncounted votes are NOT going to break all one way. For the most part, they will probably break down within a few percentage points of each other. Rangel is still going to win, even if the gap narrows some when all of the votes are counted.
Rangel is a crook!
Get rid off him...if he is not good.
Voter fraud! Where is the Justice Department this time?
Charlie Rangel is everything that is wrong about American politics.
Sounds like more Eric Holder and the Department of Injustice funny business!
a bad penny
Example of things to come in November! Get ready folks!
No surprise that there is a question about the vote.....It's Charlie Rangel.