Allegations Of Election Fraud And Discrimination Loom Over Staten Island Council Recount

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A handbook recount within the Republican main election for a Metropolis Council seat on Staten Island received underway Wednesday with the 2 rival candidates trying on, one denying prices of potential voter fraud and the opposite of anti-immigrant discrimination.

Workers of the New York Metropolis Board of Elections started tallying 8,577 ballots solid within the fiftieth council district which spans a central swath of the island. A slim margin of simply 42 votes separates the 2 candidates, with David Carr forward after ranked-choice voting tabulations. Marko Kepi ended election night time 647 votes behind however narrowed that margin after selecting up thrice extra absentee-ballot votes than Carr.




Marko Kepi

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Marko Kepi


Gwynne Hogan / Gothamist

Looming over the recount is the specter of a number of investigations into potential election fraud. Kepi, who attended “Cease the Steal” rallies final fall in help of former President Donald Trump, is now beneath investigation for allegedly fabricating absentee ballots to rig the election in his favor.

Within the Board of Elections warehouse on the South Shore of Staten Island, overlooking New York Harbor, Kepi denied the allegations.

“I really feel like I’m again in Communist Albania, actually,” mentioned Kepi, a former U.S. marine who was born in Albania. Kepi insisted his marketing campaign ran a legitimate absentee-ballot operation amongst a tight-knit group of Albanians and Albanian-Individuals who stay within the district and that the Staten Island Republican Celebration was attempting to undermine his marketing campaign.

“They discovered each loophole, each method potential to disqualify voters,” he mentioned. “I campaigned in opposition to the social gathering candidate and the social gathering misplaced and now the social gathering does not wish to surrender. So that they’re doing all the pieces they’ll to cease us from claiming our victory.”




David Carr

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David Carr


Gwynne Hogan / Gothamist

Carr, who works as chief of workers to the term-limited Councilmember Steven Matteo, introduced issues about 1,000 absentee ballots collected by Kepi’s marketing campaign to the Board of Elections and the Staten Island District Legal professional. The DA’s workplace is investigating; The Board of Elections requested assist from state and federal authorities to research potential election fraud earlier this month, pointing to signatures on absentee-ballot envelopes that didn’t match the board’s information and an occasion by which a lifeless particular person solid a poll.

Chapin Fay, a spokesperson for Kepi, countered with prices of discrimination, accusing Carr’s marketing campaign of singling out individuals with Albanian names for objections.

“They didn’t object to Joe Smith. They’re objecting to Kepi’s and all the opposite Albanian names,” Chapin mentioned. “I feel in every other board of elections throughout the nation there can be a firestorm of media about that. It’s loopy.”

Additionally on the warehouse to survey Wednesday’s recount, Carr denied discriminating in opposition to Albanians and mentioned the problems on this race highlighted why New York ought to put stricter limitations on absentee voting.

“New York State is sadly not a voter ID legislation state, the one protection now we have in opposition to election fraud is the signature comparability course of and that’s what we did,” he mentioned. “I imagine that each authorized vote ought to be counted and that’s what’s taking place right here at the moment.”

Carr and Kepi have sued each other and can seem earlier than State Supreme Court docket Decide Ralph Porzio doubtless in mid-August, as soon as the Board of Elections has completed the handbook recount of votes.

Kepi’s marketing campaign mentioned they’re ready to herald all of the voters whose absentee ballots are in query to testify. Robert Straniere, a former state meeting member and Kepi legal professional, mentioned the winner of the race in the end could also be determined in court docket.

“In order Yogi Berra mentioned, ‘It ain’t over until it’s over,’” he mentioned.

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