New York's 1st District, encompassing eastern Long Island, remains the nation's last undecided congressional race of 2010. Supporters of Republican challenger Randy Altschuler contend that incumbent Democrat Rep. Tim Bishop was the beneficiary of illegal votes:
Absentee ballot counting ground to a halt at 11 a.m. Friday in the only still-undecided congressional race in the nation, as lawyers and strategists for both candidates continued preparation for a showdown in State Supreme Court next week [i.e., starting today].
Republican challenger Randy Altschuler gained six votes on incumbent Democrat Tim Bishop in the count yesterday, narrowing the difference between the two candidates to 271 votes or 264 votes, depending on which side is doing the tally. (Bishop's camp has his lead at 271 but the difference is only 264 according to Altschuler's people.)
But more than 1,400 paper ballots remain uncounted - two-thirds of them because of objections raised by Altschuler - and the decision to count them or not will be made by Supreme Court Justice Peter H. Mayer . . .
Mayer will rule on the validity of an assortment of objections to the remaining absentee ballots . . . .
Of Altschuler's approximately 1,000 outstanding ballot objections, about 650 of them are based on residency challenges. Altschuler's lawyers are preparing to argue that the voters in question were improperly registered to vote in Suffolk County, according to Altschuler spokesman Rob Ryan.
Ryan said the Altschuler team's investigation of those 650 challenged absentee ballots has turned up "hundreds" of voters that he contends should not have been allowed by the Board of Elections to register and vote in Suffolk County. He declined to give a specific number. The research is still continuing, he said.
The voters in question include people who own homes in New York City, have a New York City address on their drivers' licences and, in numerous instances, voted in New York City multiple - even dozens of - times over the past decade or so. Some of them have gotten STAR tax relief - available only on one's principal dwelling - on homes outside the 1st CD. Ryan said the Altschuler team has also turned up recorded mortgage documents in which some of the voters affirmed their NYC residences were their primary residences - and then voted in Suffolk County.
"That's either voter fraud or bank fraud," Ryan said.
Ryan accuses New York City Democrats of scheming to influence elections outside of the city. "They have taken proactive measures to encourage people to vote from their vacation homes," Ryan said. He pointed to CountryVote.org, a website he said was established by a group of Democratic lawyers to encourage wealthy New York City Democrats who have second homes in the country to register at their country address - where their vote in an election will have more influence.
"It's a move to stack the deck. The Democrats win in NYC by such wide margins, they don't need the votes there, so why not put people in other places where their votes will count," Ryan said. . . .
Read the whole thing. Sources close to the Altschuler campaign provided me with this timeline of the post-election events:
- ELECTION DAY: New voting machines (scanners with retained paper ballots) are used for the first time in a statewide General Election. When the polls close returns are unusually slow coming in, not only in the 1st District, but across the state. The following morning Altschuler is presumed to have lost by over 3,400 votes.
- FRIDAY, 11/5: The voting machines have been returned to the Board of Elections warehouse and the memory chips in the machines are downloaded and a swing of 3,800+ takes place. Altschuler ends the day up by 383. It appears that the reported vote on Election Night was riddled with human error caused by election workers who are unfamiliar with the workings of the new machines. (This same type of situation arose in November 2009 when the new machines were used in 7 of 11 counties that make up New York's 23rd Congressional District. In this case one candidate gained over 2,500 votes when the memory chips were downloaded.) Almost immediately, the Bishop campaign starts calling for a hand-count of all ballots scanned by machines on Election Day; approximately 184,000 ballots. This came a day after they had ridiculed the Altschuler campaign for wanting a count of the absentee ballots.
- TUESDAY, 11/8: Bishop goes to State Supreme Court wanting hand count of all 184,000 scanned ballots judge requests legal basis for the count. The Suffolk County Board of Elections starts a NY State mandated audit of 3% of all machines in the County. This is a statewide mandate to make sure that the new machines are working properly. The BOE finds no problems with the machines when the audit is completed 10 days later.
- WEDNESDAY, 11/9: Suffolk County Board of Elections starts count of over 11,000 absentee, military and affidavit (emergency) ballots. This is includes a challenge process by which each campaign challenges ballots prior to them being opened and counted. These challenges can be based on a variety of issues ranging from late postmark to handwriting or residency issues. Challenged ballots are set aside by type of challenge and will not be opened or counted until the challenge is resolved.
- TUESDAY, 11/23: Count of approximately 9,000 of the above referenced 11,000+ ballots is completed. Altschuler now trails by 230 votes with over 2,200 challenged ballots remaining to be counted.
- MONDAY, 11/29: FOX NEWS runs story citing incidents of fraud in numerous absentee ballots that have been challenged. Under NY State law these are felonies and if convicted the voter can be sentenced to a year in jail. The ballots challenged on a residency basis revolve around individuals with residences in New York City or Florida with multi-million dollar vacation homes vacation homes in the Hamptons and Shelter Island.
- WEDNESDAY, 12/1: At close of business Altschuler is behind by 259 votes.
- THURSDAY, 12/2: Judge is review all challenges based on technical issues.
- MONDAY, 12/6: Judge will start to review remaining challenges based on handwriting or residency issues.