While most congressional races have long since ended there is one race still in doubt, the contest in New York’s 1st Congressional District between Long Island Democratic incumbent Congressman Tim Bishop and Republican challenger Randy Altschuler, were the incumbent is now leading by 235 votes out of the roughly 180,000 cast.
Everything about this race has been strange, after election night on Nov. 2, Bishop held a lead of 3,461 votes, but after a re-canvass of electronic voting machines evaporated Bishop’s advantage giving Altschuler had a 383-vote lead. Close to 40 percent of election districts reported errors in transferring numbers on election night. After absentee ballot counting began, the incumbent gained votes every day.
Yesterday Fox News reported that they reviewed approximately 438 of the absentee ballot voters, who also maintain mailing addresses in New York City, of which 48 have double registrations.
This morning, they reported that review was up to 2000 absentee ballots. After checking those ballots that were sent to New York City addresses, and with their local board of elections, they found that 50 of those 2000 ballots voted in BOTH locations.
“It certainly is illegal to vote twice,” warns John Conklin, the spokesperson of the New York State Board of Elections, who said convictions can bring a one year jail sentence.
“If you voted twice, you committed a felony, and I think it would be very difficult to do that by accident. I think that would be something to be concerned about and that the district attorney is going to come knocking on their door.”
The overwhelming majority of the Long Island voters, who are also on the New York City voter rolls, appear to be wealthy Manhattanites who own second-homes in the posh resort towns of East Hampton, Southampton, Montauk, Amagansett and Shelter Island. Many of them voted in Manhattan as recently as last November in New York City’s mayoral election, and in the presidential election of 2008.
It is not illegal for second home owners to vote from their vacation homes, as long as they are not also registered or vote elsewhere. In fact, the Democratic Party  has encouraged the practice.
The website, Countryvote.org, which is run by the New York Democratic Lawyers Council, says that “New Yorkers have the right to choose where they vote if they have more than one home…you have the right to vote using an absentee ballot if your work or family commitments keep you in the City during the week.”
“They are abusing the system,” charges local resident Noel Feustel, a long time voting activist who has tried to bring light to voter registration problems.
“They are disenfranchising the locals, and negating my vote. They are affluent enough to own multiple residences, but the regular person, the poor guy harvesting scallops doesn’t have that option. It is one person one vote, not multiple residences, multiple votes. If they want to claim that this is where their heart is and vote here, they should serve jury duty, pay sales tax on their BMW’s and Steiger Craft boats, and when they move on to their final domicile, pay estate taxes in Suffolk County.”
Both sides will attend a meeting this morning morning at Board of Elections headquarters in Yaphank to try and cut down the number of challenged votes between both sides. In addition, 71 military votes will be counted. From there, a judge will determine what to do with the remaining ballots.
Tuesday’s meeting comes after both sides met on Monday and cut out approximately 250 challenges on both sides, said Bishop spokesman Jon Schneider. According to Schneider, after absentee and affidavit counting ended last week, Altschuler had challenged 1,261 votes, and Bishop 790. It will be interesting to find out what other “funky” news comes out of this election.
The voter in question has an extensive voting record, having cast a ballot in New York City 33 times since 1984. Records show he not only voted in a Manhattan polling place during the general election this past November, but also in the Democratic primary in September. The voter has not returned our request for comment.