Judge orders 7,000 Suffolk ballots counted

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Nassau's chief administrative judge on Tuesday ordered the Suffolk Republican elections commissioner to count some 7,000 untallied paper ballots and certify the results for Long Island's six Supreme Court judicial races.

Supreme Court Justice Anthony Marano told Suffolk Republican Elections Commissioner Wayne Rogers to follow the directive of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, who issued an executive order after superstorm Sandy to allow displaced voters to cast ballots outside their home election districts.

Rogers had balked at counting 7,026 affidavit ballots in Suffolk because "it was unclear from the order what sort of proof was required" to determine whether a voter had been affected by the storm or had simply voted at the wrong polling place, which happens in every election, said Rogers' attorney Garrett Swenson.

Cuomo's order made no mention of voters being required to designate the storm as the reason for casting their ballots.

"Commissioner Rogers is grateful and appreciative that the judge clarified what the governor meant in his emergency order and is moving expeditiously to complete the certification process," Swenson said. He predicted that Suffolk's ballots would be certified "within a few days."

In Nassau, the judicial ballots have already been counted and were expected to be certified by Wednesday, said Democratic Elections Commissioner William Biamonte.

"This was an issue in no other county in New York State," Biamonte said. "They tried not to count 7,000 ballots. This is something out of Skunk Hollow, Mississippi."

Swenson responded, "That kind of low comment leads me to expect that Commissioner Biamonte got his training in Skunk Hollow."

The Suffolk ballots are not expected to change the results in any races, including winners of the six Supreme Court justice seats, which cover both Nassau and Suffolk.

Expected to be certified for Supreme Court are John J. Leo, Sondra L. Pardes, Leonard B. Austin, Richard Ambro, Peter Skelos and Leonard Steinman. Skelos was the only Republican winner.

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