Rep. Charles Rangel's lead over his Democratic primary challenger is widening as the New York City Board of Elections continues counting ballots.

The board's tally through midday Friday had Rangel leading state Sen. Adriano Espaillat (ah-dree-AH'-noh ehs-peye-YAHT') by 1,158 votes.

That was up from Rangel's 802-vote margin before the board started counting absentee and affidavit ballots Thursday.

The board hopes to finish counting ballots by the end of the day or on Saturday at the latest.

There could be a full manual recount if the final difference is less than one-half of 1 percent of all votes cast.

Meanwhile, a Bronx judge ruled Thursday the city elections board can certify the tally for Rangel and Espaillat but must wait to transmit the result to the state Board of Elections.

Rangel is trying to hold on to his chance for a 22nd term.

The 13th Congressional District race appeared decided last week on election night, with Rangel seemingly holding a sizable lead. But the vote margin shrank, leading some to wonder if Espaillat conceded too soon.

Redistricting transformed the district into a majority-Hispanic one

Lawyers for the two candidates have argued in state supreme court over what the challenger calls voter irregularities.

Espaillat's lawyer said he wants to maintain the option of reviewing any irregularities and says there were many instances where voters were turned away.

A lawyer for the Board of Elections says that claim is gross overreaching.

And Rangels' lawyer have accused Espaillat of trying to drag the process out to score political points.

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