Claim of Fraud as Votes Are Counted in Brooklyn Special Election

What began as a pleasant day of official vote-counting in the undecided special election for state senator in south Brooklyn devolved into claims of fraud and disenfranchisement from both campaigns on Wednesday afternoon.

In other words: nothing new.

On Wednesday morning, at the city’s Board of Election’s headquarters in Brooklyn, the Republican candidate, David Storobin, 33, a lawyer, led the Democratic candidate, Councilman Lewis A. Fidler, by 119 votes.

By the end of the day, when about a third of the roughly 1,500 absentee ballots and affidavits were counted, Mr. Storobin’s lead was down to 37.

The counting will continue on Thursday, and most likely on Friday, when lawyers for both campaigns are expected to appear in State Supreme Court in Brooklyn so that a judge can review the ballots in dispute, including 151 from Wednesday.

The candidates had already taken a contentious, if not ugly, approach in the campaign for the 27th District. Now, their representatives are continuing the trend.

“We have identified significant patterns of fraud, including a good number of people who sent in absentee-ballot applications who stated they were permanently disabled but then showed up to vote,” Kalman Yeger, Mr. Fidler’s campaign manager, said.

Lawyers for Mr. Fidler’s campaign said they had identified 177 people who had filled out applications for absentee ballots claiming permanent disability, ballots that were collected by the same woman.

“These votes are being targeted ethnically for exclusion so it can go to court,” David Simpson, a spokesman for Mr. Storobin, said. “We believe every vote should be counted the same way.”

The machine totals last week showed that Mr. Storobin, who was born in the Soviet Union, had a slight edge in primarily Russian-American neighborhoods like Brighton Beach and Gravesend. His campaign considered that a moral victory, considering that Gregory Davidzon, a power broker with a popular Russian radio show, had endorsed Mr. Fidler, originally considered the front runner.

“It’s the height of ridiculousness to say that there’s any effort to disenfranchise anybody,” Mr. Yeger said.

Proving a voter’s disability before a judge could be a difficult task, however, and it is possible that testimony from private investigators hired by Mr. Fidler’s campaign will seek to determine the authenticity of the absentee ballots.

“It is shocking that the lies from the Storobin campaign continue a week after the election,” Mr. Yeger said.

Mr. Storobin’s campaign was just as outraged. “David Storobin made a concerted effort in this historic election to empower Russian-American voters and better include them in the democratic process,” Mr. Simpson said in a statement. “It is wrong for the Fidler campaign, now that they are losing an election, to try and subvert the democratic process by specifically excluding voters from the Russian areas of the district, many of whom are participating for the first time.”

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