Councilman Larry Delgado’s lawsuit to claim 100 alleged “lost” votes due to a faulty voting lever in District 18 in North White Plains was not dismissed Wednesday morning. Judge Nicholas Colabella continued the challenge by adjourning the case to another judge, who will take up the Delgado suit on Monday.
EMERGING CONFIDENT FROM THE COUNTY COURTHOUSE WEDNESDAY MORNING, Larry Delgado, incumbent City Councilman is flanked by his election law team, John Ciampoli(L) and Jeffrey Binder (R). The three emerged from Judge Nicholas Corabella’s courtroom 1200 Wednesday with an adjournment to Monday on their suit to have the alleged faulty District 18 voting machine, now impounded, inspected. Today’s continuance means results are delayed at least another week.WPCNR PHOTO
In New York State Supreme Court, at the County Courthouse Wednesday morning, Judge Colabella listened to arguments on examining the District 18 Voting machine. He heard from Adam Bradley, attorney for Glen Hockley, the council candidate with an estimated 65-vote lead over Delgado. Jeffrey Binder and John Ciampoli, attorneys for Mr. Delgado presented his complaint. Mr. Delgado did not argue on his own behalf.
Delgado alleges 100 voters were disenfranchised.
Mr. Delgado’s counsel argued for an examination of the impounded District 18 voting machine where the alleged miscount occurred. Counsels Binder and Ciampoli base their argument on Section 16-112 of New York State Election Law which calls for “examination of the ballot” to insure no voter is disenfranchised.
Bradley: examination should not include mechanical testing of the machine.
Mr. Bradley, apparently seeking to avert actual inspection of the internal workings of the suspect faulty voting machine, raised the question to Judge Colabella of what the word “examination,” means and asked the Judge for a ruling on it. Bradley contended that “examination” did not include actually looking into the mechanical functioning of a voting machine.
Mr. Bradley based his argument on the fact that the Board of Election District Inspectors inspect the machines at the beginning of voting for functionality.
Courtroom observers felt, in observing Judge Colabella’s face, his eyes staring intently at Mr. Bradley and Mr. Ciampoli, that he took a skeptical view of Mr. Bradley’s argument that examination precluded internal inspection of the machines.
The Judge asked what the two teams wanted him to rule upon. Mr. Ciampoli said he wanted the Judge to rule on what constituted “examination,” and to set a date for the inspection, and appoint inspectors to examine the suspect District 18 voting machine.
The judge asked two Board of Election officials in attendance if they could assign inspectors, and they said they could. Judge Colabella then advised the attorneys for both sides, that he was willing to assign a date for an inspection date then and there, but that he was going on vacation and could not issue a ruling until January.
Bradley nonaction appears to delay decision for a week.
When attorney Bradley expressed reluctance to agree, Judge Colabella then announced that he felt it would be expeditious to reassign the case. The judge adjourned the case until Monday morning at 9:30 AM, before another judge.
Judges are assigned at random by computer. This, according to Mr. Binder, was how Judge Colabella happened to draw the Delgado challenge, despite his scheduled vacation coming up. By not agreeing to the judge assigning a reexamination of the machines date this morning, Mr. Bradley has, according to Mr. Delgado’s attorneys, held the examination of the machine up for a week.
Ciampoli speaking to WPCNR after the court appearance said the inspection of the machine could have begun this Friday, but now would not.
Entourage troops to the court clerk office for reassignment.
In an interview with the Delgado legal team, while waiting for the assignment of the judge Mr. Ciampoli and Mr. Binder gave us some details of their arguments.
Classic indicator of machine malfunction.
WPCNR learned from Mr. Ciampoli that Mr. Delgado’s result is a classic indicator of voting machine malfunction. Ciampoli reports he read the numbers off of Line 1-A, the Republican line, to a Suffolk County election expert, to get his reaction. The official immediately said “the count is broken.”
Mr. Delgado advised this reporter that his history of running in District 18, showed that his count could have been expected to be at least 100 votes more. Michael Amodio and Robert Tuck, Mr. Delgado’s Republican running mates each garnered approximately 139 votes and Mr. Delgado, just 39, according to those familiar with the individual District counts. This apparently lends credibility to Mr. Delgado’s challenge in the eyes of Judge Colabella who could have simply listened to the arguments and dismissed the suit Wednesday morning.
“Outcome Determative” weighs on Judges’ minds
Mr. Binder advised WPCNR that since the 100 votes in question are “outcome determinative,” the courts take a very serious view of the disenfranchisement question, “If the machine was defective, at least 100 voters will have been disenfranchised of their right to cast their vote for Mr. Delgado. A common sense scan raises the question of how do you then throw out those 100 votes?”
Warming up, Mr. Ciampoli added, “Every voter has the right to vote for every official. ‘So what?’ doesn’t cut it. That’s tough. You see a line that is different from all the others, normally you can throw it out. But here it is outcome determinative. This 100 votes makes the difference in the election.”
Ciampoli said the Delgado team at this point wants “a thorough review of this (District 18) machine.” He said they were not at the point where a new election was called for. Ciampoli says “sometimes a gear slips,” accounting for a failure of a machine to count on a particular candidate.
Mr. Delgado remarked, “It (the malfunction) is obvious to anybody. It only appeared on one line – 1-A – my line. Let’s look at the machine – determine the cause of the error. Any fair reading of the statute (16-112) is to see whether an error occurred.”
Mr. Ciampoli, an expert in election law, indicated Mr. Delgado’s chances are good: “I’ve never seen a judge refuse to have a machine examined when it meant finding out the truth (of the result).”
He sited one recent case where entire election was recanvased because of just this kind of election machine error.
Ciampoli said any election machine inspection would include the appointment of one Republican Party inspector and one Democratic Party inspector to go behind the panel and take a look.
Democratic Team Leaves Court Quickly.
Mr. Bradley on leaving the court did not wish to go into what his “answers” might be as to what he wanted examined. Mr. Bradley was accompanied to court by Tom Roach, also acting as counsel, with of course, Mr. Hockley and the third candidate for Common Council, Rita Malmud.
Official results have not been posted on the Board of Elections site, according to two Board of Elections officials because of technical difficulties and a “broken server.” The official said the Board of Elections is not required to file results by law before December 3, and they therefore were not behind.
Observers of the proceedings say this is the first time in White Plains history where a suit has been filed challenging a district vote that would determine a council seat.
By a little before noon Wednesday, the court clerk’s office had assigned Judge Orazio Bellantoni to hear the case on Monday, at 9:30 AM in State Supreme Court. WPCNR will be there.