The March 20th special election between Democrat Lew Fidler and Republican David Storobin continued to drag on this afternoon, as a judge heard, but did not rule on, Mr. Storobin’s motion to dismiss Mr. Fidler’s fraud lawsuit against a bit over a hundred of his absentee ballots. Mr. Storobin is currently holding on to a three-vote lead, so obviously this could prove critical in determining the ultimate winner of the Brooklyn State Senate seat.
Nothing of note seems to have happened during this afternoon’s hearing, but according to Mr. Storobin’s campaign, the judge is expected to rule on the fraud allegations when the respective parties’ legal teams meet in court again on Monday.
“The only thing worth mentioning is that as of today’s hearing — a full month after election day — the Democrats and Fidler’s campaign have yet to produce one single piece of evidence, witness to, participant in, or even a specific enumeration of their bogus allegation of fraud,” Mr. Storobin’s campaign spokesman David Simpson claimed in a statement. “The only thing they are basing their fraud allegation on is that the Storobin campaign hired people (more specifically one person in question) to make sure absentee ballots were available to Russian voters who need them.”
[Update: The Fidler campaign responds to these claims in the update at the bottom]
The argument from Mr. Fidler’s campaign, however, is actually significantly more complicated than this. His lawyers contend various pieces of evidence surrounding the campaign staffer’s absentee ballots — including a number of voters swearing to their disability but turning up to vote on Election Day regardless — suggest the votes were fraudulently collected.
It’s a very tricky legal argument, however, and it’s difficult to guess at how the judge will ultimately rule.
If neither candidate leads by 110 votes when the issue is settled, an automatic hand recount of all 20,000 votes cast in the race will occur, so the ultimate winner of this State Senate contest may still be up in the air for some time yet.
View Mr. Simpson’s full update below:
Today Judge Mitchell heard arguments on two issues: 1) our motion for summary judgment & 2) their claim of fraud and our motion to dismiss that claim. We are back in court on Monday at 2:15 when he is expected to rule on both.
The only thing worth mentioning is that as of today’s hearing — a full month after election day — the Democrats and Fidler’s campaign have yet to produce one single piece of evidence, witness to, participant in, or even a specific enumeration of their bogus allegation of fraud. In other words, they produced nothing in their court arguments today that would substantiate their claim. And they have had a full month to do so.
The only thing they are basing their fraud allegation on is that the Storobin campaign hired people (more specifically one person in question) to make sure absentee ballots were available to Russian voters who need them. As you know BOE materials are not printed in Russian but a large percentage of the district read and speak only Russian. We believed it was a worthwhile effort to engage these voters, many of them for the first time, in the electoral process. This is a practice that is not only 100% legal (kosher, if you like), every single campaign I have ever been involved with has operated an absentee ballot program that works the same way. And so do the Democrats.
We maintain that Lew Fidler believes that his only chance to win this election is to collectively disenfranchise well more than a hundred Russian voters who properly cast absentee ballots in accordance with the law. Nothing could be a more egregious violation of our democratic principles than disenfranchising people on the basis of their racial or ethnic background. Shame on Mr. Fidler.
Update: Mr. Fidler’s campaign manager Kalman Yeger emails in his response to Mr. Simpson:
“With due respect, the Storobin campaign is hardly qualified to decide what is legal, much less what is kosher.
“New York State law prohibits absentee voting except for voters who are unable to get to the polls on Election Day. There is significant evidence that Mr. Storobin’s staff conducted an illegal mail-in campaign. We’ll let the Court decide.
“In the meantime, the Storobin campaign spent today urging the Court to discard over a hundred votes cast by people who have been permanently registered absentee voters FOR YEARS. Unlike Mr. Storobin’s illegal voting operation, the ballots being challenged by Mr. Storobin were not delivered by either campaign. And unlike Mr. Storobin’s illegal voting operation, the challenged voters didn’t all register for their absentee ballots through a single individual employed by Mr. Storobin.
“It seems the only ballots Mr. Storobin wants counted are those his staff delivered to the Board of Elections.”