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Long Island

Judge urges party election officials to reach accord

A Nassau State Supreme Court justice adjourned until Friday a case involving the validity of affidavit ballots in a judicial election, but asked the lawyers for Democrat and Republican election officials to come to an agreement on it between themselves.

"I encourage all sides to try to work together and . . . resolve this issue," Justice Anthony Marano said. "We hope it is the vote of the people, not the decision of the court, that seats these candidates."

The race in the spotlight is in Long Island's 10th Judicial District, where 12 candidates vied for six State Supreme Court seats.

The case stems from Suffolk Republican election officials refusing to officially count any of the 7,000 affidavit ballots that were cast by voters outside of their registered election districts because of superstorm Sandy.

In light of the storm damage, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo had issued an executive order allowing such voting.

But Wayne T. Rogers, the Republican commissioner of the Suffolk County Board of Elections, has refused to count the ballots, arguing that the paper ballots did not indicate that Sandy was the reason for their being cast out of district.

Opponents of Rogers' action, such as Nassau Democratic Elections Commissioner William Biamnote, derided that reasoning. "There was no requirement for such a statement," Biamonte said. "There was no place on the ballot for it, and at the time no way to document that such a statement was true or not."

Rogers did not return calls. His deputy commissioner, Bill Ellis, had little to say other than he is "expecting a court decision Friday."

Steve Schlesinger, the top lawyer for the Democrats, said he also expects a decision from the court. "We haven't been able to agree on much so far," he said.

Two Democrats -- Nassau Acting Supreme Court Justice Hope Zimmerman and Leonard Steinman, a lawyer -- are closely pushing Republican Justice Peter Skelos, the brother of Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre), for the sixth position, which he now holds by about 2,800 votes.

Marano, responding to a question, told Schlesinger that he had no problem with Nassau certifying all of its races. Nassau election officials later said it would be done right away. Suffolk's comparable elections aren't certifiable until the case is decided.

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