Written by Katie Piacentini Friday, 25 June 2010 00:00
Revival Party candidates were removed from the official Village of Manorhaven ballot by a court ruling from the Appellate Division of the New York State Supreme Court just days before the election, which left the Environment Party as the only candidates on the ballot. Currently, the election results for trustees and mayor have gone into a recount after a considerable write-in effort created a close vote. The Village of Manorhaven Canvass of Results showed that incumbent Mike Meehan received 452 votes to Giovanna Giunta’s 370 write-in votes for mayor. As for the trustee candidates, the canvass showed that Patrick Gibson of the Environment Party received 441 votes, incumbent Brendan Fahey of the Environment Party received 433 votes, Mark Lazarovic of the Revival Party received 320 write-in votes and Dorit Zeevi-Farrington of the Revival Party received 285 write-in votes. All of the votes are now with the Nassau County Board of Elections, where a recount will be done this week.
Manorhaven Village Clerk Jonathan Fielding said that he turned everything over to the Nassau County Board of Elections last Thursday after the Revival Party requested a recount. On Election Day, which was June 15, the polls shut down at 9:05 p.m. and Fielding said that he and the four election inspectors – Michael Barry, Margaret DiLeo, Alice Melzer, and Mamie Kerr – shut down the voting machines at that time and began the process of counting all of the votes. He said that they determined how many times the lever was pulled on each machine to vote for the Environment Party candidates. They also removed the paper rolls that contained all of the write-in votes, which the election inspectors sign at the beginning and the end in order to verify that the entire paper roll is accounted for, he said. In counting the write-in votes, he explained that they accepted misspelled names. For example, he said that they counted write-in votes for “Gunta” or “Guinta” as a vote for Giunta. He said that the election inspectors showed patience and fortitude, and that they finished this arduous task at 4:45 a.m., at which point they signed off on the Canvass of Results and locked up all of the materials in the vault.
This Village of Manorhaven Canvass of Results provided the “public counter” for each of the three voting machines, which indicates how many times the curtain was closed. According to this information, the total “public counter” of all three voting machines was 932. Meehan received four absentee ballots and Giunta received 11 absentee ballots, meaning that the voting machines recorded a total of 807 votes for mayor.
It appears as if there were over one hundred extra times that the curtain was closed without a vote for either candidate. The Revival Party thinks that the machines had technical difficulties, which made it impossible for some people to do a write-in vote. The Village Clerk said that people might have gone in and not voted, or the curtain might have jammed, giving a higher count of curtains closing than voters. The Nassau County Board of Elections said that voting for a write-in candidate is not easy, and it is possible that a person could get frustrated and leave the booth without voting. There are also some mind-boggling but possible explanations that read like an SAT math question, such as a person could have voted for only the mayor and no one else or only one of the trustees and no one else, which could create a larger difference between the number of times the curtain closed and the total number of votes.
Chief Clerk Lauren Doolin confirmed that the village brought the votes to the Nassau County Board of Elections on Thursday for a recount, and that all of this information is locked away until they re-canvass the votes. She said that New York State Election Law allows for misspelled write-in votes to be thrown out, although she added that the election lawyers will discuss the ground rules before the re-canvass of votes begins. They will recheck the machines, she said, and the mechanics of the machines will also be discussed. She added that the machines were locked up all day and no one could have been able to get to the paper roll that contains the write-in votes. Finally, she said that the board of elections does not act as a judge, but is there to administer and handle the recount in a non-partisan manner. She said that if the involved parties are not satisfied with the results, then they could decide to go to court.
Giovanna Giunta stated that she has compiled about one hundred sworn affidavits that have been signed and notarized from people who said they had difficulty voting for the Revival Party, which she believes cost her party votes – votes a recount would not find. She said that these people came to her to express the difficulties they faced with the voting machines and agreed to write and sign an affidavit.
The Board of Elections expects to release the results of the recount this week and the Port News will provide more information as this story unfolds.