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Southampton Conservatives allege illegal voting

The Southampton Conservative Party primary for supervisor was marred by illegal voting, compromising the integrity of the election and the winning candidate's one-vote margin, Southampton Conservative Party leadership said.

But Conservatives decided not to contest last month's election in court because there was not enough time to hold a new election, Southampton Conservative leader Jim Malone said.

"There clearly are questions," said Malone, a Southampton councilman. "Pursuing those questions, I'm told, would've been a pursuit without remedy because of the time constraints."

At least one extra vote was cast in the Conservative Party primary, which the GOP's nominee, former Supervisor Linda Kabot, won, 73-72, according to a review of election records by Newsday.

In a Quogue election district, four Conservative Party voters signed into the official voter poll roster on Sept. 10, but the vote tally includes five votes -- three for Kabot, one for Phil Keith, and one for a "John Smith," who was not a candidate.

Kabot beat Keith, a newspaper columnist and planning board member in the all write-in election. If the election had been tied, the nomination would have been decided by Conservative Party leadership, which had tapped Keith a week before to block Kabot from winning the party's nomination.

Kabot is looking to unseat Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst, an Independence Party member also endorsed by Democrats, in November's election. While Kabot had secured the Republican line, she fought for the Conservative line, which in past Southampton elections has attracted hundreds of votes.

While it is not clear who cast the extra vote, voter participation reports, submitted by poll workers on election day, list Gregory C. Celi Jr. of East Quogue as a Conservative. He signed into the "voter poll roster" as a Republican, as he is registered.

Celi's wife, Sharon Celi, is an active Kabot supporter and volunteer, Kabot said in an interview. Celi did not return repeated calls for comment on Wednesday and Thursday.

Kabot said Keith and the Conservatives could have pursued a remedy in court.

But Malone said there wasn't enough time to sue and hold a new party primary.

Malone and Keith drafted a letter to the Suffolk County election commissioners on Sept. 20, alleging the vote discrepancy and another in election district 28.

The Suffolk County Board of Elections commissioners, whose Democratic and Republican commissioners certified the election late last month, said in a statement that any errors could have been pursued in court.

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