Not over yet: Three votes are all that separate Pheffer Amato and Republican challenger in southern Queens Assembly race

A razor-thin margin of three votes are all that separates Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amto and her Republican challenger Tom Sullivan. (QNS/File)

Three votes out of 32,245 cast are all that separate incumbent Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato and her Republican challenger Tom Sullivan, who has led in the race to represent District 23 in south Queens since election day.

Pheffer Amato, who has represented the district since 2017, filed a lawsuit in Queens Supreme Court that raises concerns over 92 absentee ballots that were invalidated due to ministerial errors made by the Board of Elections clerical staff.

“When the very essence of our nation’s democratic values is under attack, Assemblywoman Amato’s campaign is committed to making sure every vote is counted. The Board of Elections staff has preliminarily invalidated the votes of close to 100 absentee voters of all parties that meet all the statutory obligations,” her campaign spokesman said in a statement to QNS. “With the passage of New York’s John Lewis Voting Rights Act, we are going to court to ensure that rules and regulations follow the law as stated and are interpreted liberally in favor of protecting the right of voters to have their ballots cast and counted.”

In addition to the court case, with a hearing scheduled for Dec. 1, all Assembly votes will be manually counted in December to accurately count the paper ballots and determine the intent of the voter where machines were unable to do so.

“As the narrow margin will lead to a manual recount mandated by law regardless of the final outcome of this case, we are confident that the will of the voters can only be upheld once these valid ballots are opened and counted,” the Amato campaign spokesman concluded.

Sullivan, a Colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve and married father of four from Breezy Point, led by 246 votes on election night.

“I think the judge is going to allow or disallow the nearly 100 votes that were invalidated for material errors and that was by a bipartisan board of Democrats and Republicans assembled by the Board of Elections,” Sullivan told QNS Monday. “Either way, no matter how it goes in court, when that’s done, they’ll go to a manual count.”

He added that he’s not expecting an official result anytime soon.

“They’ll have to assemble a board to hand recount the 32,245 ballots,” Sullivan said. “And I don’t expect that to be finished before the end of December.”