Republican Thomas Sullivan is leading incumbent Queens Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato by a razor-thin three-vote margin as a recount looms in the race — as well as legal fights over dozens of ballots now being disputed by the Democrat.
“We are going to court to ensure that rules and regulations follow the law as stated and are interpreted liberally in favor of protecting the rights of voters to have their ballots cast and counted,’” Amato (D-Rockaways) said Wednesday while referring to a new law approved by Albany Democrats earlier this year.
“No voter should be penalized with arbitrary determinations which defy logic and prevent a voter from even attempting to cure potential errors,” she added.
The case filed by the three-term legislator in state Supreme Court in Queens concerns whether 92 disputed absentee votes – out of 32,245 cast in the election – might still count despite problems like voters forgetting to sign them or seal envelopes.
Two more votes were improperly invalidated by elections officials, according to the press release, which also notes that nearly a dozen more ballots unrelated to the court case might still be counted as well, according to Pheffer Amato.
Sullivan, an Army Reserve veteran who has worked in the financial industry, is vowing to fight efforts by his Democratic rival to get the courts to reverse decisions made by election officials in the race.
“Those ballots were voided by a bipartisan team from the Board of Elections and there were material mistakes on those ballots that that put the the integrity of the ballot in question,” Sullivan told The Post Thursday.
“It was either not postmarked, not sealed, not signed,” he added about the disputed votes.
It remains unclear how Sullivan’s three-vote lead might grow or disappear depending on a court ruling expected in upcoming weeks or the manual recount required under state law given the close margin.
President Biden won the newly-drawn district covering parts of the Rockaways, Howard Beach and Ozone Park in Queens by a 52.4% to 47.6% margin over Donald Trump in 2020, according to CUNY Mapping Service.
But the Assembly District is one of several that Republican Lee Zeldin won while campaigning hard on opposing criminal justice reforms in his close race against Gov. Kathy Hochul.
“One of my commitments during the campaign was to break down this no cash bail law,” Sullivan said about what he wants to do in Albany if he ekes out a victory in the end.
Some defeated down-ballot Democrats have blamed Hochul’s “hot mess” campaign for failing to give them the coattails they needed to win close races in places like the outer boroughs where the GOP scored several upset victories this November.
But legal technicalities could cost Republicans seats in the Legislature before lawmakers begin their new terms in January, with a Brooklyn Assembly race possibly coming down to whether or not the apparent GOP winner met residency requirements.
“Whoever the loser is won’t trust the process anymore,” Sullivan said Thursday about his own three-vote nail-biter.