Court Calls in Referee for 7th Senate District

Appointee to oversee, report to court on disputed absentee ballots.

You will not find A. Jeffrey Grob on the sidelines of the Meadowlands or stepping onto the hardwood at Madison Square Garden, eschewing zebra colors in favor of a matching suit and fedora. Grob is not a normal referee in any typical understanding of the word. He is instead an appointee of the , sent to oversee the tedious process of in between Mineola , R, I, C, and incumbent , D- Port Washington.

Grob was appointed late last week after Republican Board of Election chair John Ryan after reporting to judge Ira Warshawsky that Democrats on the Board had been behind closed doors, refusing to come out.

"He's going to have no effect on the process whatsoever," Johnson campaign attorney Steve Schlesinger said, calling Grob's involvement "meaningless."  Grob was appointed by justice Warshawsky to oversee the absentee ballot counting and report back to the court on Monday, the next time the two parties will be in Warshawsky's chambers. There are currently about 879 absentee ballots being objected to by both parties. Democratic Elections Commissioner William Biamonte says that number is even higher, between 1,000 and 1,100 thanks to 200 ballots being set aside in a "maybe" tray.

Part of Grob's job is to try to move that number down to more manageable levels to bring before the court, which has .  "We'll agree to move it down to a more manageable number," Schlesinger said.  "It'll come down. [Grob] can only listen and make a recommendation to the court on Monday. He's irrelevant to the process." Grob is expected to hold his first hearing on the disputed ballots Tuesday morning.

The number of disputed ballots is representative of the 7th Senate district, as it comprises approximately 25 percent of Nassau County. During the 2009 election for County Executive, there were in excess of 4,000 disputed ballots.

No race in Nassau County can be certified until a 3 percent audit of the entire county's voting machines takes place. Thirty-two voting machines from around Nassau County were selected at random for audit. Election workers had completed an audit of 10 of the machines by midmorning Monday, and estimated that they will have finished all 32 by the end of next week.  If discrepancies are found on more than 10 percent of the machines, auditors must then increase the number of machines to 5 percent of the machines in the county. Biamonte reported that two of the machines had failed their audit Monday morning. "If two more machines fail between now and the end of the audit, the entire audit fails and you have to go to a 5 percent audit," he said.

Following an initial recount of the race, Martins still holds a lead of 403 votes.  Democrats have been seeking a , looking for discrepancies in the voting. "If the 3 percent audit fails, that's a discrepancy," Biamonte said.


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