Committee designees sweep Democratic primaries, Board of Elections confirms

VERA CHINESE PHOTO | Phil Cardinale and Town Council candidate Matt Van Glad during the Democratic nominating convention in May.

Almost 20 hours after the polls closed in Riverhead’s Democratic primary races Tuesday, county Board of Elections officials still hadn’t posted any results, vaguely blaming the delay on a glitch in the process of transferring vote tabulations from the electronic machines.

But that didn’t stop the Democratic Committee nominees — citing numbers they had acquired — from declaring victory over their challengers for the Democratic supervisor and Town Council nominations.

According to former supervisor Phil Cardinale, the committee designee to run for that seat again, the results tallied by the Board of Elections on Wednesday showed him receiving 500 votes to primary challenger Greg Fischer’s 123.

Update: These numbers were confirmed by the Board of Elections later Wednesday afternoon.

In the three-way primary for two council seats, the votes showed party designees Matt Van Glad and Marlando Williams with 374 and 369 votes, respectively, and challenger Ruth Pollack with 313, according to Mr. Cardinale.

Democratic chairman Vinny Villella, who also works at the Board of Elections, confirmed Wednesday afternoon that the party designees won all three positions, although he didn’t give specific numbers and elections commissioners could not be reached.

“We’re very pleased with the results and the fact that we’ll be together as a team for the general election,” Mr. Cardinale said. “Hopefully, we can get more Democratic voters out for that vote.”

The Board of Elections still hadn’t released results officially at 4 p.m. Wednesday. It had sent a release earlier in the day saying the results would be in by the “close of business today.”
Elections officials said of the delay: “The vote tabulating machines worked impeccably, however, there was a situation with the result transfer system.”

Mr. Cardinale said he’d heard poll workers had been mistakenly instructed to remove the wrong card from the voting machines, resulting in incorrect results reported Tuesday night on the Board of Elections website.

The Democrats were gathered at Mr. Cardinale’s house on primary night, ready to watch as numbers were posted to the site, which was hooked up to a big screen TV.

But it quickly became clear that something was wrong when the website showed only about 88 votes cast with all 22 districts reporting.

Ms. Pollack said Tuesday that she and Mr. Fischer were watching the same results on the same website at the Hotel Indigo in Riverhead. Those results had her leading, but she said she wasn’t sure what to make of them at the time.

The BOE later removed all countywide results from its website as it prepared to recount the votes.

Mr. Cardinale and Mr. Villella both attributed Ms. Pollack’s impressive showing to the fact that she was listed next to Mr. Cardinale on the ballot.

“People voted for her by mistake,” Mr. Villella said.

“I can’t imagine another two years of narcissistic Phil,” Mr. Fischer said Wednesday.

Mr. Fischer and Ms. Pollack will still be on the November ballot on the newly formed independent Riverhead First line.

“We’re going the distance, no matter what,” he vowed Wednesday.

Mr. Fischer said he got results Tuesday night from four districts and knew then that he wasn’t going to win.

“Some big constituencies that said they were going to show up and vote didn’t,” he said, declining to say who those constituencies were.

“The voters picked a candidate that can’t possibly win,” he said of Mr. Cardinale.

Mr. Fischer said his own polling shows that the Republican incumbents, Supervisor Sean Walter and Councilmen Jim Wooten and George Gabrielsen, are way ahead of the Democrats.

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