The Supreme Court judge overseeing the ballot disputes in the State Senate District 27 campaign threw out Councilman Lew Fidler’s allegations that a member of David Storobin’s campaign committed voter fraud, ordering the Board of Elections to count 119 disputed ballots likely to fall in favor of the GOP.
The Fidler campaign contended Storobin’s team committed voter fraud when a paid Storobin consultant intentionally gathered 119 absentee ballots for Russian voters who were capable of reaching the polls. In New York, voters can only cast absentee ballots if they are physically unable to get to the polls. However, at least 16 of those “permanently disabled” voters cast a vote in person on election day. After failing to appear in court on April 26, the consultant – Alla Pometko – was subpoenaed by the judge last week, when she declared her innocence.
The judge determined that Fidler’s evidence came up short, and that Pometko’s testimony appeared credible.
“The court finds that petitioner has failed to meet his burden of establishing, by clear and convincing evidence, that Ms. Pometko or Storobin are chargeable with knowledge of any fraud with respect to the procurement of absentee ballots,” Judge Larry Martin wrote. “In fact, the evidence adduced at trial falls far short of the allegations contained in the petition and bill of particulars.”
Following the decision, the campaigns issued the following statements (published in order that they were issued):
Campaign spokesman David Simpson said, “We were right all along. Everything the Storobin campaign did to encourage voter participation in this election, especially our outreach efforts into the Russian community, was done in accordance with the law and 100% above board. Today the court affirmed that. The Fidler campaign has wasted time and taxpayer money trying to steal this election and disenfranchise Russian voters. But all they succeeded in doing was to delay the outcome of the election for another month. Once these ballots are counted, we are confident that David Storobin will regain his lead and will be declared the winner.”
From Lew Fidler:
We respect, but respectfully disagree with, the Court’s decision. Over 100 otherwise healthy people spontaneously declared themselves to be disabled in the presence of no one other than David Storobin’s staffer. This is a proven fact. The Storobin campaign knows exactly what it did here and purposefully set out to do it.
This election – and this count – are far from over. While we await the actual opening of these ballots, a hand recount of more than 22,000 ballots will undoubtedly follow. At the very least, as this will be a first manual recount since the use of the new scanners, we will find out if the new machines are in fact giving us all an accurate count. When all the ballots are double-checked for accuracy, we will know who will be entitled to take the oath of office.
In the interim, I will continue to work as hard as ever representing the people of my district in the City Council.
Here’s the judge’s decision, first published by Daily News: