Judge: Open the box

Paper ballots will be counted for Sanitation 7 election


The tell-tale paper ballots that, at least in part, held up the June 19 election for a new commissioner on the board of the Oceanside Sanitation District will finally be counted.

Nassau Supreme Court Justice Arthur Diamond ruled in the Mineola Courthouse on Monday morning that 184 paper ballots collected but unopened on the night of the election would be unsealed in court on Wednesday, August 13. The ballots have been sealed in a box and locked in a cabinet at the district office since the June 19 election. The ballots were put on hold when it was discovered that the two voting machines used by the district for the election, which were rented from a Queens company called Pull This!, indicated an irregularity in voting. As many as 140 people who entered a voting booth did not cast ballots, according to Jack Libert, a mediator hired by the district to examine the election. Additionally, 33 voters somehow voted without signing the voting register.

Candidiate Tom Lanning filed an injunction through his attorney, John Mannone, on July 23 calling for the district to count the ballots and declare a winner. According to the two voting machines, Lanning led Mike Franzini by a count of 837-739 when the polling closed, with Steve Edmondson receiving 12 votes. Franzini would have to win the paper ballot by a count of 141-43 to pull even with Lanning, but even after the paper ballots are counted, a winner may still not be declared. The district still has not resolved how to deal with the undervote the voting machines indicated.

“That may be dependent on the margin of victory produced by counting the paper ballots,” Libert said. “If after the paper ballots are counted, Mr. Lanning’s margin is more than the undervote, the point may be moot.”

“We are not jumping for joy yet,” Lanning said. “But they did what we asked them to do, which is to count the paper ballots.”

Because voters’ registration slips were placed in the same envelope as their ballots on election night, Judge Diamond will supervise the removal of the ballots so that voters’ anonymity is preserved, Libert said.