Judge Weighs Fraud Charges in Tight State Senate Vote
By Zach Campbell
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Three votes separate two state Senate candidates vying for a district in southern Brooklyn, with 400 absentee ballots yet to be counted, more than one month after a special election was held to replace disgraced Carl Kruger. A resolution may — or may not — emerge on Thursday.
Republican attorney David Storobin has seen his lead over Democratic City Council Member Lew Fidler (D-Bergen Beach/Canarsie/Sheepshead Bay) shrink from 120 on election night to just three votes as of Monday, after several hundred absentee ballots were counted. The count has been dogged by allegations of fraud and corruption in a district that, next year, won’t even exist.
Supreme Court Civil Term Justice Larry Martin is set to rule as early as Thursday on accusations that a Storobin consultant, Alla Pometko, falsified close to 120 absentee ballots, some from voters not even aware that they had even filed for absentee ballots. It is alleged that some of the absentee votes were submitted by people who did not fill out or sign their own ballot applications, and that some voters were not eligible to vote by absentee ballot in the first place.
Pometko has been subpoenaed to appear in court on Thursday.
“We’re confident that when this individual is brought before the court, the gritty details of Mr. Strorobin’s scheme will become public,” Fidler campaign manager Kalman Yeger wrote in a recent update.
Storobin has called the allegations “bogus” and unfounded, saying that the Fidler camp has yet to show any evidence for his claims.
The fraud lawsuit has delayed the election results and the opening of the last 400 absentee ballots, which, given how close the results are, could be crucial for either candidate.
If neither wins by more than 110 votes, or half a percent of the total votes cast in the special election, state law mandates that all of the 22,000 votes be recounted. And with only two months left in the legislative session and the district set to disappear at the end of this year due to redistricting, it is unclear whether the winner in this election will even have time to show up for work.
State legislative sessions normally run from January to the end of June, and the Legislature can be called into “extraordinary session” by the governor during the rest of the year. Still, this is not very common — it happened for one day last year and three in 2010.
A Fidler staff member added that they believe that the district lines are not final, saying that there is a possibility that the new state Senate districts for 2013 will be overturned by the Department of Justice, which, under the Voting Rights Act of 1965, gets to vet even the most minor changes to voting procedures in Brooklyn, Manhattan and the Bronx.
While state attorneys general have overturned newly drawn voting districts in the past, according to lawyers familiar with redistricting procedures, the Department of Justice is more likely to defer to state legislators and not overturn the new district maps.
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