“I’m just going to ask you point blank, because the Fidler campaign seems to believe–” Gene Berardelli, the lawyer for David Storobin, the Republican candidate in a still too-close-to-call March 20th State Senate special election, began to say in court earlier today as he interviewed one of Mr. Storobin’s staffers in an ongoing fraud lawsuit.
“Objection!” declared former State Senator Marty Connor, currently the lead lawyer for Democratic candidate Lew Fidler. The judge sided with Mr. Connor and asked for less editorializing in the question.
“During your time with the Storobin campaign, did you ever see anything fraudulent in the collection of absentee ballot applications?” he asked.
“Absolutely not,” the staffer, Liam McCabe, answered.
Lawyers for Mr. Fidler allege another one of Mr. Storobin’s staffers, Alla Pometko, intentionally collected over a hundred absentee ballots fraudulently, pointing to a dozen or so voters who indicated they were permanently disabled but showed up to Election Day to vote again as evidence.
“Did you ever order her to fill out applications on her own before meeting with a voter?” Mr. Berardelli asked next.
“Absolutely not,” Mr. McCabe again answered.
The questions continued to rattle off. As both Mr. Berardelli and Mr. McCabe are on the same side here, it was a fairly friendly interrogation.
“Based on your experience in evaluating Ms. Alla Pometko’s job performance, would you say that she was worked very hard? … Would you say she was diligent? … Would you say she took her job seriously?”
The court case will continue tomorrow with one last witness — a Board of Elections employee who oversaw the absentee ballots collected by Ms. Pometko. The judge will subsequently issue a ruling, and although it’s not immediately clear when that will be, it’s clear things are coming to a close on the legal front.
However, the ongoing lawsuit was not the only development in this tense election today. About 220 ballots that were previously contested on non-substantive bases were released to the Brooklyn Board of Elections to be counted, and they broke strongly for Mr. Fidler, placing him ahead by 87. He was previously down by 3.
But with the lawsuit looming over the results, his lead clearly could be solidified or wiped out, depending how how the judge rules. If Mr. Fidler loses the case, he would enter the now seemingly inevitable automatic hand recount with a narrow disadvantage in the vote total, while if he wins it, he would be in a very good position to become a State Senator when all is said and done (which might be a while).
Both sides, naturally, indicated very strongly the judge will side ultimately with them.
Correction: The initial tally of a 90 vote lead was what the two campaigns had reported. This was 3 votes off from the official total.