As disappointing as Senator Craig Johnson’s loss to Jack Martin’s was to Democrats, the manner in which he lost should disturb all New Yorkers. As a piece in today’s Albany Times Union today makes clear, current election law robbed Nassau residents of the right to have their vote counted, and betrayed the trust of our citizens in the fairness and integrity of the electoral process.
The court battle over one particularly close state Senate race may be over, but neither side should be happy with the outcome. Nor should New Yorkers, no matter whom they were rooting for.
Republican Jack Martins may well have been the legitimate victor in the 7th Senate District race on Long Island. Then again, it might have been Democratic Sen. Craig Johnson. We’ll probably never know, thanks to New York’s election laws. […]
That last flaw was exposed in this year’s 7th Senate district race, in which Mr. Martins drew 451 votes more than Mr. Johnson — a margin of just a half of one percent of the roughly 85,000 votes cast.
n a number of other states, from Connecticut to Florida to Alabama to New Mexico, such a close margin would be cause for an automatic recount.
Not so in New York, where that decision is left largely up to the courts, which in this case decided that a recount wasn’t necessary — despite errors that were found in a sampling of three percent of the machines in the district. One machine, for example, had more votes counted than actual ballots; two others had fewer votes recorded than the number of ballots cast.
Those and other errors netted two extra votes for Mr. Johnson. The courts, though, reasoned that since Mr. Martin would still win if all the machines had the same rate of error, and since there was no evidence of foul play, a full hand count of ballots wasn’t necessary.
As the Times Union makes clear, the law must be changed to mandate recounts in close contests such as the one that occurred in SD-7 in 2010. To do otherwise is a recipe for further disillusionment and declining civic participation.