A lawsuit filed by a leading candidate for the 93rd New York State Assembly District against the Westchester Board of Elections and his Democratic primary opponents is not meant to be “adversarial,” Chris Burdick told The Katonah-Lewisboro Times.
Machine-cast ballots on Tuesday, June 23, put the Bedford town supervisor 188 votes ahead of the next leading candidate, Kristen Browde, of Chappaqua. But with at least 8,000 absentee ballots still to be counted, the race is far from over.
According to the lawsuit, before the absentee count, Burdick has 1,834 votes, Browde has 1,646 votes, Jeremiah Frei-Pearson has 1,295 votes, Alex Roithmayr has 511 votes, and Mark Jaffe has 395 votes.
Burdick, a lawyer by trade, said the lawsuit, filed June 26, is meant to “preserve our rights” should the final tally be exceedingly close.
Among other things, explained his attorney, Howard Graubard, “It gives us the right to ask the court to reconsider rulings made by the Board of Elections where the board has ruled a ballot invalid and we might think it should be ruled valid (or vice versa)…Or to get a mandatory hand count because the election is so close.”
Additionally, through the discovery process, “We might discover something untoward happened at a particular polling place,” Graubard said. For example, he said, perhaps Republican voters were accidentally allowed cast ballots in the Democratic primary.
Burdick said he has “no reason to think” the Board of Elections has made or will make any of these errors.
“I frankly think the Board of Elections will do just fine,” Burdick said. “It’s simply a precautionary measure out of an excess of caution.”
Browde, who trails Burdick by fewer than 200 votes, commented on the lawsuit in a July 1 statement posted to Facebook.
“Chris Burdick filed a lawsuit seeking to be declared the winner of the primary or seeking a new election—something Burdick described as being filed only to ‘preserve his rights’—should there be any irregularities,” said Browde, who is a lawyer.
Graubard said Burdick is not attempting to prevent the absentee ballots from being counted.
“If [Burdick] has more ballots [cast in his favor], the relief we want is he be declared the winner,” Graubard said. “We’re not asking him to be declared the winner before the votes are counted. We want all valid votes to be counted.”
When reached for comment, Browde, who filed a counterclaim on July 1, deferred comment to her attorney, Bob Spolzino. The intent, Spolzino said, is to get “a fair and honest result, one way or another.”
“We, like Chris Burdick, want a fair count,” Spolzino said. “That’s what it’s all about: a fair count.”