Reviewing all Padavan vs Gennaro ballots

The last undecided election contest in New York between incumbent Republican, State Senator Frank Padavan and Democratic challenger, City Councilmember James Gennaro got a little further from resolution recently, when a judge reportedly denied Padavan’s request to declare him the winner.
Instead, at a hearing on Wednesday, December 10, Judge Kevin Kerrigan ordered the Board of Elections (BOE) make the roughly 1750 absentee and “affidavit” ballots they had previously declared invalid available for both sides to review.
Calling the decision “an important victory for the Democrats,” Gennaro spokesperson Erin Monju said that the estimated 2,000 uncounted paper ballots [including 252 disputed ballots], “which skew heavily to minority, disabled and student voters who vote heavily Democratic, could have a major impact” on the election.
Sources close to both sided told The Queens Courier that Kerrigan “did not provide a signed copy of the order” to Republican attorneys, which a source familiar with Election Law source said would complicate any potential appeal.
Republican lawyers ordered a transcript of the hearing to guide them in formulating the exact form of their motion, probably a restraining order to halt the count the source said.
“It was pretty clever,” the source said, “the first time [the Republicans] will see the signed order is when it gets to the BOE. That doesn’t leave them much time to file [with the Appellate Court division in Brooklyn].”
Nearly 93,000 ballots were cast in the 11th Senate District race as of Election Day, November 4. Roughly 8,000 of these were paper ballots of one form or another.
A court-ordered re-check of the machine votes and approximately 1,000 emergency paper ballots - cast while machines were broken down - was begun on Wednesday, November 12. The final tally showed Padavan with a meager 474 vote lead.
Democrats have been insisting since then that the remaining absentee and affidavit ballots - cast by those who were not on the voter rolls of the polling place where they voted - would favor Gennaro.
BOE officials examined the envelopes containing the ballots and initially rejected roughly 2,000 of them. After a second look, that number was down to about 1,750.
After two weeks of sometimes-contentious examination, the other paper ballots were counted, with the exception of 252 disputed ballot envelopes. Frank Padavan showed a lead of 580 votes.
Democrats have been insisting since initial Election Night returns that the race would be decided by the paper ballots, many of which they claim were cast by “first-time and minority voters.”
In published reports, Evan Stavisky a spokesperson for Queens Democrats insisted, “These 2,000 voters took the time and effort to have their voices heard and they shouldn’t be disenfranchised.”
Only “five or 10” of the uncounted ballots were disputed by Gennaro’s side, according to a source familiar with the counting process.
Just a day before the hearing, Joseph Conway, a spokesperson for the state Senate Republican Campaign Committee, had challenged Democrats to “[Do] the right thing for the residents of the 11th Senate District by conceding the election.”
Conway pointed out that the 1750 ballots Gennaro supporters want counted are “Flawed under the Election Law and invalidated through a bipartisan process by both Democratic and Republican commissioners at the BOE.”
During a hearing on Wednesday, December 3, when he tossed out Republican subpoenas for six Saint John’s University students whose votes were challenged, calling them a “nuisance.”
As of press time, officials in the Padavan campaign had not returned calls requesting comment on Kerrigan’s ruling.
If the Republicans do appeal the ruling, the Appellate court could call an end to the count or allow the ballot-by-ballot review.
If the review takes place, it is likely that any which are not invalidated outright will join the 252 already in the “court box.”
Then, if there is any chance the disputed ballots could affect the outcome, each one could have to be argued in front of Kerrigan.
The hearing marked the 36th day since the election and if the “experts” are correct there may be no end in sight, raising the possibility that the 11th District seat could be vacant when the new Senate votes for majority leader in January.

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