After 20,000 votes cast in a state senate special election that took place over a month ago, Republican candidate David Storobin still leads by 3 votes.
The legal teams of Mr. Storobin and his Democratic opponent Lew Fidler met in court earlier this afternoon to continue hashing out their arguments over absentee votes and fraud allegations. And, according to the campaigns, not a lot seems to have happened. One or two dozen more ballots challenged by Mr. Storobin got green-lighted to eventually be counted, which benefits Mr. Fidler, but that doesn’t seem likely to happen anytime soon.
The biggest issue currently on hand is the Fidler campaign’s allegation that a Storobin campaign staffer fraudulently collected absentee ballots. Mr. Fidler’s lawyers contend the evidence suggests an illegal write-in campaign was conducted (in New York State, voters cannot vote absentee by choice and have to have a legitimate reason to do so) while Mr. Storobin’s lawyers are likely arguing that the benefit of the doubt should be given to votes cast by legitimately registered voters.
Notably, the judge agreed to a subpoena against the Storobin staffer in question. “My understanding is that she has been ordered to appear for a deposition at Brooklyn Supreme court on Thursday morning,” Mr. Storobin’s spokesman, David Simpson, wrote in an update sent to reporters this evening, again calling the fraud allegations “bogus.”
“The subpoena became necessary because the Storobin campaign refuses to produce this individual in court,” Mr. Fidler’s campaign manager, Kalman Yeger, wrote in his own update tonight. “We’re confident that when this individual is brought before the court, the gritty details of Mr. Storobin’s scheme will become public.”
The judge may rule on the fraud allegation later this week, or maybe not. Regardless, an automatic hand recount of every ballot in the race seems fairly likely, which would drag on the process even further.
View Mr. Simpson’s statement and Mr. Yeger’s response below, which, like past statements, involve Mr. Storobin’s charge that the ballots were challenged based on the Russian ethnicity of the voters who cast them rather than the campaign staffer who collected them.
Here’s a quick update from today’s hearing. Not much news I’m afraid.
First off, Judge Martin denied our motion for summary judgement (as we expected). It has little if any affect on how this will move forward except to make sure that 20-some ballots will be counted among the nearly 400 remaining unopened ballots.
Second, he reserved judgement on the fraud issue. We still have a motion pending to dismiss Fidler’s bogus fraud claim. As today — just as was the case on Thursday of last week — Fidler’s camp has yet to produce a single shred of evidence or a single witness to substantiate their claim that there was any fraud. It is only an unsupported theory at this point. The judge ordered Fidler’s attorneys to submit a “bill of particulars” which would, in theory, contain supporting evidence to support their fraud claim. We have no idea what that bill of particulars will contain because they haven’t given us any clue in court.
The judge also signed a subpoena order for Alla Pometko, the former Storobin campaign employee who helped produce the 177 absentee ballot applications that are in question and are the supposed subject of Mr. Fidler’s fraud allegation. My understanding is that she has been ordered to appear for a deposition at Brooklyn Supreme court on Thursday morning. That deposition would NOT be open to the public or to the press.
I will once again point out that most if not all of the absentee applications that are the subject of Mr. Fidler’s fraud claim are all native Russian speakers to the best our our knowledge. Ms. Pometko herself is also a native Russian. We maintain that this is systematic targeting of ethnic voters on the part of the Fidler campaign and the Democrat Party and a clear case of voter intimidation.
Finally, the judge ordered all parties to reconvene in court on Thursday morning at 10am. I am assuming that there will be arguments / discussion on the bill of particulars that is to be produced by Mr. Fidler’s attorneys the day before. There may also be some further discussion on Ms. Pometko’s deposition. Judge Martin may or may not rule on our motion to dismiss their fraud claim, or it could take a little longer. Although I will say the judge made it clear he wants to get this thing moving and wrapped up as soon as possible. …that makes at least two of us.
That’s all for now. Check back with me on Thursday afternoon.
“As Mr. Storobin’s illegal voting scheme continues to unfurl, we’re not surprised that his spin bears no relation to the truth.
“The court issued a subpoena for the Storobin staffer who appears to have coordinated Mr. Storobin’s illegal voting scheme. The subpoena became necessary because the Storobin campaign refuses to produce this individual in court. We’re confident that when this individual is brought before the court, the gritty details of Mr. Storobin’s scheme will become public.
“If the challenged absentee ballots are from Russian-speaking voters, it is only because Mr. Storobin’s campaign targeted its illegal voting scheme on his own community. It is a felony to vote by absentee ballot if you are not entitled to receive one. Some of Mr. Storobin’s ‘permanently disabled’ applicants for absentee ballots managed to make it to the polls and vote a second time. There are also an additional 50-60 ballots obtained by Mr. Storobin’s staff, but never returned to the Board of Election. We believe these facts merit a full hearing so the people can learn how Mr. Storobin tried to steal this election, and what happened to those missing ballots.
“Today, in a well-thought opinion, the court denied Mr. Storobin’s request to discard ballots cast by people who have been permanently registered absentee voters FOR YEARS. Justice works.”