By Patrick Donachie
A federal court ruled Tuesday that the general election date for the race to succeed outgoing U.S. Rep. Steve Israel (D-Melville) should still be Nov. 8, putting a hold on state Sen. Jack Martins’ attempt to have the race postponed until December.
The U.S. Department of Defense also weighed in on the Oct. 6 Republican primary mandated by a federal court between Martins and fraud investigator Philip Pidot, saying it was confident New York state could adequately hold the primary and general elections close together without disenfranchising military or overseas voters.
A federal court ruled last week that Pidot would face Martins Oct. 6 after a prolonged court battle in which Pidot contended he should have a primary contest after his petitions were validated.
Martins argued that an Oct. 6 Republican primary would disenfranchise such voters, saying the election would be in violation of the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act. The legislation mandates that states transmit ballots to overseas and military voters 45 days in advance of an election. Martins wanted to move the general election for the 3rd Congressional District race from Nov. 8 to Dec. 6.
A federal judge in Albany denied Martin’s request that the general election be shifted to December.
Although there are only 32 days between Oct. 6 and the scheduled Nov. 8 date, Defense approved a request by the state Board of Elections to waive the requirements of the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act because of the challenges presented by the court-ordered primary. The MOVE Act is an amendment of this act, mandating the 45-day requirement unless states are granted a waiver by Defense.
The Republican primary winner will face former Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi in the November general election.
“Disenfranchising even one American servicemen or woman, in this general election is far too many,” Martins said in a statement. “The federal court’s decision disregards the federal law designed to protect our servicemen and women and compromises our military’s right to vote in the general election.”
Pidot slammed Martins, painting him as an “insider politician.”
“I had hoped to make this race a referendum on corrupt Long Island and New York politics with what resources I had,” Pidot said. “Never in a million years did I imagine that Mr. Martins would make the case so forcefully and publicly for me through his outrageous and failed legal actions.”
The candidates are voting to succeed Israel in representing the 3rd Congressional District, which includes parts of Nassau and Suffolk counties, Bay Terrace, Whitestone, Glen Oaks and Floral Park.
The state has pledged to expedite the process after the Oct. 6 primary and will give voters outside the district the option of filling in write-in ballots in advance of their receiving their official ballots and pledged to transmit information to voters about the winner of the Oct. 6 primary.
Additionally, New York intends to seek a court order extending the ballot receipt deadline 10 extra days to Nov. 29.
Reach reporter Patrick Donachie by e-mail at pdona