Gordon Charlop has filed a lawsuit asking a judge to...

Gordon Charlop has filed a lawsuit asking a judge to throw out the result of an election for Great Neck Park District commissioner he recently lost, alleging the race was "unfair" and involved "illegal" procedures. Credit: Danielle Silverman

A former candidate for Great Neck Park District commissioner has filed a lawsuit asking a judge to throw out the result of the election he recently lost, alleging the race was “unfair,” “biased” and involved “illegal” absentee ballot procedures.

Gordon Charlop, 65, filed the petition on Dec. 29 in state Supreme Court in Nassau County, about two weeks after incumbent Tina Stellato, 47, defeated him in a Dec. 12 election.

The final vote tally was 1,580 to 710, according to the park district. Charlop said 861 of his opponent's votes came from absentee ballots and he received 69 such votes.

Attorney Christopher J. Prior, the park district's general counsel, said in a statement the district has “no comment on the pending matter beyond noting that our client and I are confident that the recent election was lawful and proper.”

Stellato didn't return a request for comment.

At the heart of Charlop's petition is an allegation the absentee ballot application the park district provided to voters was improper for a number of reasons, making the use of absentee ballots “entirely suspect.”

The lawsuit also alleges the district improperly used social media to endorse his opponent.

In addition, Charlop alleges in the lawsuit that the voting map the district distributed had excluded 504 potential voters. The court filing also questions whether at least 20 votes were counted after a voting machine broke down.

“In today’s environment particularly, election integrity is the backbone of the democratic process and the idea to be able to usurp that power from the general public has to be stopped,” Charlop said in an interview.

Charlop, who works as managing director for Manhattan investment firm Rosenblatt Securities, said after the election he asked the district to let him review the absentee ballot applications, the ballots themselves and the envelopes used to submit those ballots, but was turned down and advised to submit a Freedom of Information Law request.

Among the lawsuit's allegations regarding the absentee ballot process are:

The absentee ballot application allowed for ballots to be distributed to people who may not have qualified for one;, Charlop's campaign manager was improperly limited to obtaining 10 absentee ballot applications at a time; and, The district refused to accept an unspecified number of absentee ballots because of the size of the paper they were printed on,.

Jared Kasschau, an attorney and Democrat with election law expertise who served as Nassau County Attorney under former County Executive Laura Curran, said he is unaware of any provision under the law that limits the number of absentee ballot applications a person can request.

“Limiting the number of absentee ballot applications could serve to frustrate a resident's ability to exercise their franchise,” he said.

But Kasschau, who examined Charlop's lawsuit at Newsday's request, said the district's alleged refusal to accept absentee ballot applications because of paper size stood out to him in particular.

He also pointed to the social media allegation as concerning. 

An exhibit attached to Charlop's court filing included a screenshot of what appears to be a social media post from Parkwood Tennis Center, a park district facility, endorsing Stellato.

Kasschau said use of public resources to promote an individual candidate could be potentially actionable under general municipal law.

John Ciampoli, an attorney and Republican with election law expertise who served as Nassau County Attorney under former County Executive Edward Mangano, also reviewed Charlop's petition at Newsday's request.

Ciampoli said if the governmental entity is promoting a candidate, then they're putting government resources in the race, which is improper. 

Besides a new election, Charlop's lawsuit asks for an investigation into the alleged improprieties.

The case is due in court Jan. 24.

A former candidate for Great Neck Park District commissioner has filed a lawsuit asking a judge to throw out the result of the election he recently lost, alleging the race was “unfair,” “biased” and involved “illegal” absentee ballot procedures.

Gordon Charlop, 65, filed the petition on Dec. 29 in state Supreme Court in Nassau County, about two weeks after incumbent Tina Stellato, 47, defeated him in a Dec. 12 election.

The final vote tally was 1,580 to 710, according to the park district. Charlop said 861 of his opponent's votes came from absentee ballots and he received 69 such votes.

Attorney Christopher J. Prior, the park district's general counsel, said in a statement the district has “no comment on the pending matter beyond noting that our client and I are confident that the recent election was lawful and proper.”

Stellato didn't return a request for comment.

At the heart of Charlop's petition is an allegation the absentee ballot application the park district provided to voters was improper for a number of reasons, making the use of absentee ballots “entirely suspect.”

The lawsuit also alleges the district improperly used social media to endorse his opponent.

In addition, Charlop alleges in the lawsuit that the voting map the district distributed had excluded 504 potential voters. The court filing also questions whether at least 20 votes were counted after a voting machine broke down.

“In today’s environment particularly, election integrity is the backbone of the democratic process and the idea to be able to usurp that power from the general public has to be stopped,” Charlop said in an interview.

Charlop, who works as managing director for Manhattan investment firm Rosenblatt Securities, said after the election he asked the district to let him review the absentee ballot applications, the ballots themselves and the envelopes used to submit those ballots, but was turned down and advised to submit a Freedom of Information Law request.

Among the lawsuit's allegations regarding the absentee ballot process are:

  • The absentee ballot application allowed for ballots to be distributed to people who may not have qualified for one;
  • Charlop's campaign manager was improperly limited to obtaining 10 absentee ballot applications at a time; and
  • The district refused to accept an unspecified number of absentee ballots because of the size of the paper they were printed on.

Jared Kasschau, an attorney and Democrat with election law expertise who served as Nassau County Attorney under former County Executive Laura Curran, said he is unaware of any provision under the law that limits the number of absentee ballot applications a person can request.

“Limiting the number of absentee ballot applications could serve to frustrate a resident's ability to exercise their franchise,” he said.

But Kasschau, who examined Charlop's lawsuit at Newsday's request, said the district's alleged refusal to accept absentee ballot applications because of paper size stood out to him in particular.

He also pointed to the social media allegation as concerning. 

Pictured is an exhibit in a lawsuit Gordon Charlop filed...

Pictured is an exhibit in a lawsuit Gordon Charlop filed against the Great Neck Park District after he lost a December election to be become park commissioner. Charlop has alleged in part that what appears to be social media post from Parkwood Tennis Center, a park district facility, improperly used district resources to endorse Tina Stellato, the incumbent who defeated him. Credit: Nassau County Clerk’s Office filing

An exhibit attached to Charlop's court filing included a screenshot of what appears to be a social media post from Parkwood Tennis Center, a park district facility, endorsing Stellato.

Kasschau said use of public resources to promote an individual candidate could be potentially actionable under general municipal law.

John Ciampoli, an attorney and Republican with election law expertise who served as Nassau County Attorney under former County Executive Edward Mangano, also reviewed Charlop's petition at Newsday's request.

Ciampoli said if the governmental entity is promoting a candidate, then they're putting government resources in the race, which is improper. 

Besides a new election, Charlop's lawsuit asks for an investigation into the alleged improprieties.

The case is due in court Jan. 24.

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