Today’s news:

Appeal hearing set for Padavan−Gennaro election

The Appellate Division last Thursday issued a stay on any recount of ballots in the battle for state Sen. Frank Padavan’s (R−Bellerose) seat until an appeal hearing is held in State Supreme Court in Brooklyn later this week.

Following a decision Dec. 10 by State Supreme Court Judge Kevin J. Kerrigan that approximately 2,000 disputed paper ballots be counted in the race between Padavan and City Councilman James Gennaro (D−Fresh Meadows), which pleased Democrats, Republicans fired back and went to the appellate court for a stay on counting the ballots.

The Appellate Division 2nd Department issued the stay, pending the appeal hearing on the race for the 11th Senate District post, which covers a large swath of northeastern Queens.

“We’re very pleased that the Appellate Division today issued a stay to postpone any recanvassing of the paper ballots which were already ruled invalid and unqualified to be cast by a bipartisan team of Democrats and Republicans at the Board of Elections,” Joseph Conway, a spokesman for the New York State Senate Republican Campaign Committee, wrote in a Dec. 11 e−mail.

Democrats were encouraged by the original Supreme Court ruling. Democratic representatives were unavailable for comment on the stay.

“This is exactly what we expected to happen and what should have happened,” Austin Shafran, a spokesman for the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, said last week. “This is what democracy is about, about making sure every vote gets to be counted.”

Following the city Elections Board count of more than 8,000 paper ballots, Padavan leads Gennaro by approximately 600 votes. Republican lawyers had argued that the 2,000 challenged ballots should not be counted, since they were invalidated by bipartisan Elections Board officials.

Democrats, however, contended Republicans did not want the votes counted because there are ballots from minority, disabled and younger voters, who often vote Democratic.

“As we’ve said previously, allowing invalid ballots to be reintroduced months after the election would not only be unprecedented, it would also threaten to dilute the power of every vote that was legally cast by Queens residents,” Conway said in his e−mail. “It’s unfortunate that after Mr. Gennaro lost on Election Day, and then lost the recount of valid ballots, he is still attempting to drag this out as long as possible for purely partisan political reasons.”

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