Elections Board certifies Cardinale team victory

09/24/2011 9:39 AM |

The election results in the Sept. 13 Democratic primary for Riverhead Town supervisor and Town Council are now final, with the winners being the same.

Only the numbers are slightly different.

The results, certified by the Suffolk County Board of Elections on Friday, showed Democratic committee designee Phil Cardinale with 535 votes to challenger Greg Fischer’s 126 in the supervisor race.

In the three-way primary for two Town Council nominations, committee designees Marlando Williams and Matt Van Glad were declared the winners with 392 and 388 votes, respectively. Challenger Ruth Pollack, who is aligned with Mr. Fisher, had 337 votes.

The unofficial primary results weren’t released until just after 5 p.m. on the day after the vote,  due to errors at the Board of Elections. Those results had the top two finishers in the council race reversed, with Mr. Van Glad coming in first with 374 votes and Mr. Williams second, with 369, although both would have won either way. The unofficial results had Mr. Pollack third with 313 votes.

The unofficial vote totals showed Mr. Cardinale ahead of Mr. Fischer, 500 to 123.

The Board of Elections usually releases vote results on its web site the night of the vote, but on Sept. 13, those results were clearly incorrect, showing far fewer votes that likely with all districts reporting. By the following morning, the BOE took down all the results from its web site and said it was counting the votes that Wednesday. It published the revised counts shortly after 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 14.

The numbers originally posted on the board’s web site on election night, and later taken down, showed Mr. Cardinale ahead of Mr. Fischer, with only 88 votes cast townwide, and Ms. Pollack leading the council race.

A post-election Board of Elections  press release said the the  tabulating machines “worked impeccably, however, there was a situation with the result transfer system.”

Riverhead Democratic committee chair Vinny Villella, a Board of Elections employee, said some poll workers took the wrong electronic cards from the machines, resulting in the incorrect results.

Mr. Fischer and Ms. Pollack have taken legal action to challenge the results, particularly focusing on the absentee ballots. They seek a hand count of the ballots, rather than a machine count.

The press release claiming the machines worked “impeccably” was issued before the votes were recounted, said Mr. Fischer, questioning how the elections board could know at that point that the machines worked well.

“Their statement is an admission of election tampering,” Mr. Fischer said in a text message.

He said he doesn’t think he will win the primary in a recount, but he feels Ms. Pollack may have a chance.

Board of Elections officials could not be reached for comment.

tgannon@timesreview.com