The results of Poquott’s village elections last month have been thrown into dispute over allegations that some nonvillage residents may have voted.
Debbie Stevens, who lost by two votes in her bid to win one of two open trustee seats, has filed a lawsuit in state Supreme Court in Riverhead that seeks a review of the 379 votes cast in the June 20 election.
Stevens’ attorney, George Vlachos of Central Islip, said officials of the North Shore village ignored laws requiring voters to register at least 10 days before an election. He also questioned whether ballots were secured from the time polls closed on election night until results were certified the following day.
Poquott officials have defended the election and said the final tallies were certified by the Suffolk County Board of Elections.
Jeff Koppelson and John Richardson, who were declared the winners of the two open seats, have not been sworn into office while officials await a July 19 hearing before state Supreme Court Judge W. Gerard Asher.
Richardson, Stevens’ running mate on the Peace Party line, said some voters should not have been allowed to cast ballots because they are part-time or seasonal village residents.
“If someone is a part-time resident, that’s not fair,” he said. “If they have a house somewhere else, why are they voting in Poquott?”
The dispute arose on election night, when Stevens and Richardson questioned the validity of 10 ballots cast at Village Hall. They later questioned 12 of 79 absentee ballots.
Village Clerk Joseph Newfield said all of the disputed ballots were counted. He said Suffolk election commissioners agreed with the village’s vote tallies.
Republican county election Commissioner Nick LaLota said he and Democratic Commissioner Anita Katz certified the election results, but they were not asked to determine whether disputed ballots should be counted.
Richardson, a New York City firefighter making his first run for elected office, won 195 votes, the most among the five candidates. Koppelson, an incumbent trustee and retired psychiatric center director, was re-elected with 180 votes.
Stevens finished third with 178 votes. Incumbent Harold Berry lost his seat after garnering 170 votes. Angie Parlatore finished last with 28 votes.
Richardson also questioned whether the election was fair because Mayor Dolores Parrish’s son Alex was one of three election inspectors. He said that was a conflict of interest because the mayor had backed Koppelson and Berry.
Parrish said in an email her son worked at the polls “because nobody else volunteered.” The village board approved his appointment June 8, she said.
Koppelson said several village board meetings have been canceled because he and Richardson cannot be sworn in while the vote count is under court review.
“We can’t do anything,” Koppelson said. “We have to wait until this thing is resolved.”