This post has been edited.
Another case of election fraud in the 86AD.
This morning, the Bronx BOE begins the official recanvass of the vote from the September 9 Primary Election. Before the 86AD recanvass
may be delayed Bronx DA Robert Johnson subpoenaed all absentee ballots and absentee ballot applications related to that primary. Presently, Assemblyman Victor Pichardo holds a 29 vote lead over challenger Hector Ramirez (who narrowly lost to Pichardo in 2013).
Investigators from the office of the Bronx DA were present at today’s recanvass. City BOE counsel Stephen Richman announced reaching an agreement with the Bronx DA whereby all materials will be turned over after the completed recanvass. Those materials include original absentee ballot applications, original empty absentee ballot envelopes and original absentee ballots.
During the recanvass and In response to objections raised by attorney Stanley K. Schlein to certain absentee ballots, Mr. Richman said that the BOE does not rule on dissimilar signatures and has no reason to believe that the absentee ballots/applications were properly filed. As agreed, all opened envelopes and ballots will be preserved for the court.
A hearing before Supreme Court Justice Carter is scheduled for tomorrow.
Sources say Pichardo’s camp referred a criminal complaint to DA Johnson alleging that the 30 or absentee ballots delivered by the Ramirez campaign to the Bronx BOE on Primary Day were not authorized by those voters and signatures don’t match BOE records on file. A Ramirez campaign spokesman said that Pichardo’s badge-wielding "investigators" appeared at the homes of the elderly absentee voters. The spokesman believes the voters were intimidated.
Readers will recall that the last time DA Johnson investigated an election fraud allegation, disgraced ex-Assemblyman Nelson Castro became an informant in a five year state/federal corruption investigation that netted ex-Assemblyman Eric Stevenson, Sigfredo Gonzalez and four Russian co-conspirators. No one knows where this case may eventually lead. As one wag wryly remarked, "what’s in the water in the Bronx?"
[Note: An earlier version of this post erroneously stated that Ramirez lost narrowly to Pichardo in 2012. That special election to replaced Nelson Castro was held last year in 2013.]
Michael Benjamin is a columnist and blogger as well as a former state legislator who represented the 79 AD, 2003-2010.
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