A judge has ordered an unusual weekend court session for Saturday at which he will decide whether to certify the election results in the 7th State Senate District.
Incumbent Democrat Craig Johnson trails Republican challenger Jack Martins by about 450 with less than 150 paper ballots left to be counted Friday. If Martins prevails, and an incumbent Democrat in Westchester holds her lead, then Republicans would regain control of the State Senate, 32-30.
But Johnson's legal team still plans to push for a hand count of all 85,000 ballots cast in the race, hoping to unearth more votes that may have been missed by the new optical-scan voting machines.
Johnson said outside court that enough machines had failed to warrant a hand count. But again, Republican attorney John Ryan said all of the problems lent themselves to rational explanations that would be laid out for the judge in a final report Friday.
Both political parties submitted a preliminary report Thursday to Justice Ira Warshawsky on the audit of 32 of the county's 1,071 voting machines. That represents the state-mandated check on 3 percent of machines required by each county under the new election law.
In the report, the Democratic elections supervisor found that Machine No. 805 at the Mineola Historical Society failed because the audit of the paper ballots showed, among other things, a difference of one or two votes from what the machine recorded in the race for governor.
The Republican elections supervisor found the Mineola machine passed, writing without further explanation that "5 different ballots in question help to reconcile the discrepancies."
The attorneys spent some four hours before the judge Thursday afternoon as he made final rulings on which of the contested 176 paper ballots remaining should be opened.
He said he would rule Friday on any objections that arise after they are opened, and that he expected the final report on the audit by this afternoon.
Meanwhile in Suffolk County, Democratic Rep. Tim Bishop now has a 277-vote lead at the end of yesterday's counting. The campaigns of Bishop and Republican challenger Randy Altschuler also allowed 71 additional ballots to be counted Friday.
With Sid Cassese
and Reid J. Epstein