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New York Dem Doomed by Vague Election Law Crafted by His Own Lawyer (Kathleen O'Keefe) [View All]

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Wilms Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-23-11 02:21 PM
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New York Dem Doomed by Vague Election Law Crafted by His Own Lawyer (Kathleen O'Keefe)
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With Dems like this, who needs Republicans?

Dem Frank Skartados Doomed by Vague Election Law Crafted by His Own Lawyer

by Celeste Katz

February 21st 2011

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver's former adviser wrote the state law that may have cost him his powerful, veto-proof, Democratic supermajority. Democrat Frank Skartados was forced to concede the seat for the 100th Assembly District last week when he was a mere 15 votes behind.


But in a double whammy of irony, Skartados was seemingly doomed by a vague election law that was crafted by his own lawyer, Kathleen O'Keefe, while she worked as Silver's chief election counsel. O'Keefe's strict interpretation of her own law walled off one of Skartados' last hopes of fighting for the seat.


In New York City, Board of Elections rules automatically require a hand inspection of the paper trail from voting machines in any election where the margin is 0.5% or less. State election law doesn't...


Take this example:

Mr. and Mrs. Public vote in a state Senate race. Mr. Public goes to the polls; Mrs. Public mails an absentee ballot. Being of like mind, they both choose Candidate Z. They also make the same error: Both circle Z's name instead of properly filling in the oval on the ballot.

Mr. Public feeds his ballot into the voting machine, which scans the blank oval and counts it as an "undervote," or no vote in that race.

Mrs. Public's absentee ballot is opened, and election officials - who are required to consider the voter's intent - mark down a vote for Z.

Mrs. Public's vote is counted.

O'Keefe, reached yesterday, headed off any questions. "I have no comment, I'd rather you didn't call me," she said before hanging up. Silver did not return a call.

Even Kirwan's lawyer (Republican) James Walsh - though thrilled with his client's victory - said he would have interpreted the law differently if he'd been in O'Keefe's place in the 100-day-plus struggle.

"If I were her, I would've (tried to) open up all the machines - especially (in) Dutchess County," with its higher concentration of registered Democrats.


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