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Suffolk auditors on fifth voting machine

Seeking a resolution in the tight First Congressional District race, the Suffolk County Board of Elections resumed its audit of voting machines at 8 a.m. Thursday with plans to work through the Veterans Day holiday until 8 tonight, officials said.

Officials are counting by hand the ballots from the fifth of 43 voting machines from across the county.

Republican and Democrat representatives were at long brown tables, where workers checked filled-in dots and compared them against the results workers called in on election night.

The unofficial count on election night had U.S. Rep Tim Bishop (D-Southampton) as the winner by 3,461 votes, but the next day, the unofficial count declared Randy Altschuler of St. James the winner by 383 votes.

The state-mandated audit is meant to determine if the vote count recorded by the machines matches a hand count of ballots fed into the machine. Election officials have said the audit will take several days. No discrepancies have been found yet. Election officials say they believe the final results will show that the tally was accurate.

The election-night miscount stemmed from mistakes in almost 40 percent of 460 election districts, including one in Mount Sinai, where poll workers underreported 985 votes, a Newsday examination of unofficial election returns shows. Four of those reported vote totals off by 100 or more.

Some contribute the mistakes to human error - confusion reading the tapes from the new voting system, which uses computer-scan technology.

Bishop's campaign plans to petition for a judge-supervised hand recount of all ballots cast in the race, attorney Thomas Garry said on Monday.

With Stacey Altherr

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