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Perry Gershon seeks federal probe of Lee Zeldin mailer on absentees

A mailer for Rep. Lee Zeldin's campaign erroneously

A mailer for Rep. Lee Zeldin's campaign erroneously told voters to postmark their ballots by Nov. 6. The actual deadline is Nov. 5. Credit: Perry Gershon

Democratic congressional candidate Perry Gershon called on the U.S. attorney's office to investigate Republican opponent Rep. Lee Zeldin for sending a campaign mailer with the wrong deadline to return absentee ballots.

The mailers told voters to postmark their ballots by Nov. 6. The actual deadline is Nov. 5. Ballots mailed in late are disqualified under state election law.

In 2016, Zeldin's campaign also listed the deadline to return absentee ballots a day late.

"it's absolutely outrageous that Lee Zeldin is continuing to pull voter suppression and voter fraud against all of us," Gershon said at a news conference in Stony Brook. 

Gershon also called on Zeldin's campaign to release the list of voters who received the mailer, and pay for Gershon to mail them correct information. Based on complaints, he said it targeted college-age and minority voters. 

Zeldin's campaign has blamed its printer for the mistake, and said it had sent out additional mailers to correct it.

Zeldin campaign spokesman Chris Boyle on Tuesday called assertions that it targeted young people or minorities "dishonest." 

"This faux outrage on [Gershon's] part on something that was completely addressed before he said his first word on it has gotten pretty ridiculous," Boyle said in an email.

Boyle also dismissed Gershon's demand for a list of voters who received the mailer. Boyle said "less than half" of recipients of the incorrect mail pieces were Democrats.

"If Gershon would like us to purchase him a kite to go fly, we are happy to do so," he said.

Gershon, an East Hampton businessman, sent a letter Tuesday afternoon to Eastern District U.S. Attorney Richard P. Donoghue to request a federal probe.

Eastern District spokesman John Marzulli said he had no comment.

Newsday first disclosed the erroneous Zeldin mailer on Monday. Several college-age students, some registered outside of the district, complained about the mailer on liberal Facebook groups.

 Kaitlyn Hart, 18, a SUNY Binghamton freshman and political science major, posted the mailer on Facebook after receiving it at college. "It very easily could be a sloppy mistake. It's also suspicious to me it happened two years in a row," she said. 

Bohemia-based PDQ Print and Mail owner Scott Nordin said in a statement Monday that the Zeldin campaign had sent and approved the piece with the Nov. 5 date, but “the wrong file was printed.” A new run with the corrected date has been sent out.

Boyle said the campaign “caught that error before going to print and updated the proof, but the printer unfortunately ended up using the wrong version by accident.”

The campaign’s emails, Facebook ads, and website landing page, all have referred only to the correct Nov. 5 deadline, he said.

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