David Storobin, the Republican candidate in a March 20th State Senate special election, still leads by 3 votes over Democrat Lew Fidler. But that might change next week, depending on the ongoing legal proceedings.
The court battle between the two took another turn yesterday when the judge hearing the case announced he would hold one of Mr. Storobin’s campaign staffers in contempt unless she appeared as ordered.
The issue at hand is 119 absentee ballots gathered by the staffer, Alla Pometko, whom Mr. Fidler’s lawyers allege committed fraud by intentionally collecting absentee ballots from able-bodied voters (New York State does not allow absentee ballots to be cast if the voter expects to be capable of voting in person on election day). Mr. Storobin’s lawyers contend the votes were all legitimate and alleges the ballots were targeted because the voters all had Russian surnames and would be expected to favor Mr. Storobin’s candidacy.
Ms. Pometko will have to appear in court next Tuesday or risk arrest, so the legal dispute will be one step closer to being resolved at that point.
“We also are making progress in Court!” Mr. Fidler wrote on his Facebook page last night. “The disputed ballots are now down to 5 that the Storobin camp refuses to acknowledge, so the Court held a hearing on their validity. That means that another 150 or so absentees will finally get counted in the next day or two.”
And, according to Mr. Fidler, as the majority of ballots expected to be counted sometime next week were challenged by Mr. Storobin, he might reasonably be expected to move into the lead. But whether or not that lead holds likely depends on whether the judge accepts his campaign’s arguments about Ms. Pometko’s 119 ballots, almost all of which would be expected to head Mr. Storobin’s way if Mr. Fidler can’t successfully make his case.
If no candidate leads by about 110 votes or more, there will be an automatic hand recount of all 20,000 votes cast in this race.
Mr. Fidler’s Facebook note, which also announced a substantial improvement to his health, concluded by writing, “All in all, couldn’t have a better update for all of you! The view from Mooseport is starting to look pretty darn good!!!!! Hang in there.”
View the judge’s order below: