Representatives of U.S. Rep. Tim Bishop, D-Southampton, and Republican opponent Randy Altschuler will meet on Tuesday to continue to hash out the votes they have each challenged in the First Congressional District race.
Both sides will meet Tuesday morning at Board of Elections headquarters in Yaphank to try and cut down the number of challenged votes between both sides. In addition, 71 military votes will be counted. From there, a judge will determine on Wednesday what to do with the remaining ballots.
"We can start dismissing some of these challenged votes and call it a day," said Bishop spokesman Jon Schneider. "Or we have to get ready for a lengthy process. At some point, reason has to win out, because in order for these challenges to be successful, you have to prove that fraud was committed."
Indeed, an investigation by the Fox News Voter Fraud Unit, posted on Monday, claimed that 48 absentee ballots, out of 438 reviewed, held 'active' voting status at two mailing addresses. The majority of Altschuler's challenges were based on residency, worrying that many second homeowners were illegally voting in the First Congressional District race. Holding active voting status in more than one jurisdiction is illegal.
Each individual ballot will not be adjudicated, Schneider said, but rather many will be grouped into bunches, such as 31 Stony Brook University student votes Altschuler challenged. Likewise, Altschuler's spokesman, Rob Ryan, said last week that Bishop's representatives challenged Board of Election workers, which could potentially be grouped together as well.
Tuesday's step comes after both sides met on Monday and cut out approximately 250 challenges on both sides, said Schneider. According to Schneider, after absentee and affidavit counting ended last week, Altschuler had challenged 1,261 votes, and Bishop 790. He said that Bishop currently holds a 235-vote lead.
Ryan could not confirm that the challenged ballots had been 'un-challenged,' saying he had not spoken to Altschuler's lawyer since early Monday afternoon. But "that sounds about right," he said.
"Whittling down" the number of challenges, as Schneider called it, is the most recent step of a process that started four weeks ago which will ultimately determine the winner of the nation's last contested Congressional race.
After election night on Nov. 2, Bishop unofficially held a lead of 3,461 votes. A recanvass of electronic voting machines evaporated Bishop's lead into a 383-vote deficit, as close to 40 percent of election districts reported errors in transferring numbers on election night. After absentee ballot counting began, Bishop gained votes every day.
"We're at the two- or three-yard line," said Bishop last week, following the completion of absentee and affidavit ballots. "We're not 100 percent done. But we're very close."