Incumbent Assemblyman Marc Alessi, D - Shoreham, currently down nearly 900 votes to Republican challenger Dan Losquadro requested a hand recount today - and may indeed get it.
According to court documents, Losquadro and Alessi will appear in court next Monday, Nov. 15. At that point, both sides will have the opportunity why an order should not be made for several provisions, among them:
"Ordering that all ballots cast in the General Election held on the 2nd day of November, 2010, for the public office of Member of Assembly, 1st Assembly District be completely recanvassed by a voter verifiable record audit (i.e., a recount by hand of the paper ballots)."
While the order provides an opportunity for a hand recount, it doesn't necessarily mean one will occur. Losquadro, reached Monday evening, stated the only thing for sure to come from the court order is that both sides are allowed to be present during an audit of three percent of the district's voting machines. Alessi said the only for sure to come out of the court order is that all machines have been impounded.
If several errors occur during the audit process, a hand recount may be in order, Losquadro said. But if there are none, then the numbers that were originally reported should be trusted, he said.
"As long as the number of ballots cast matches the number of people who checked in to vote, I don't really see a problem," he said. "Other than paying a bunch of attorneys to sit around, I don't see what it's going to accomplish."
In Suffolk County's first general election using electronic voting machines, Alessi said on Monday evening he was concerned with the "wild swings (in votes) that have never happened historically."
After a recanvass of the Assembly race, Losquadro picked up nearly 850 votes; a recanvass of the race for First Congressional seat resulted in a nearly 4,000-vote swing in favor of Republican challenger Randy Altschuler. An audit in that race was being performed on Monday.
A "recanvass," is a manual check on the digitized numbers input through each electronic machine on election night. While the machines tally the votes of the ballots that go into them, sometimes human error comes into play when inputting those numbers into computers. An audit matches the number of ballots cast with the sign-in sheets required to receive a ballot.
"As far as I'm concerned, this is not about me and Dan Losquadro anymore," Alessi said. "I want to make sure we have a legitimate process we can depend upon. The bedrock of democracy is fair elections to ensure the will of voters."
After an audit of the voting machines, absentee ballots still need to be counted. Absentees were due on Monday, and according to Losquadro, will be counted on Wednesday.