Supporters of Mathylde Frontus gathered outside her Coney Island campaign office, 1610 Mermaid Ave., on Saturday, Sept. 15, to demand that the city’s Board of Elections release the remaining vote tallies from her Sept. 13 primary against Ethan Lustig-Elgrably in the 46th Assembly District.
At this point, Frontus holds a slim 70-vote lead over her opponent, with approximately nine percent of the votes (representing 11 election precincts) yet to be counted, and both she and Lustig-Elgrably have expressed frustration at the delay. Virtually all other races contested on Sept. 13 have seen the release of complete unofficial results.
According to reports, the scanners and flash drives that preserve the information at the polling places in question are blank. This paper reached out to the Board of Elections on Friday, Sept. 14 for clarification but it has not yet responded.
“We are having a rally today because we want to make sure that we understand what’s going on,” Frontus said. “Even though we have 91 percent of the votes, there are still some 10 percent of votes missing and we’re trying to get to the bottom of this.”
Lustig-Elgrably issued a statement on Saturday, Sept. 15 calling for transparency. “As we are now days past Election Day and we still do not know the full vote count in several parts of the district, the Board of Elections must release the complete results in this race immediately and give an explanation for the cause of this delay,” the statement read. “To further delay the results would undermine the trust of the public in the entire electoral process. New Yorkers are owed clean and transparent elections.”
The 46th Assembly District covers Bay Ridge, Coney Island, Dyker Heights and a portion of Brighton Beach. The two candidates are vying to succeed former Assemblymember Pamela Harris, who stepped down earlier this year, after being charged with defrauding various government entities of tens of thousands of dollars in the wake of Superstorm Sandy. Harris pleaded guilty in June to wire fraud, making false statements to FEMA and witness tampering in connection.
Harris’s predecessor, Alec Brook-Krasny, also has legal troubles. After stepping down in 2015 to take a job in the private sector, he was subsequently indicted in connection with a sting operation targeting three Brooklyn medical clinics that investigators allege were “pill mills” which illegally prescribed opioid painkillers while also fraudulently billing Medicare and Medicaid for millions of dollars worth of unnecessary medical tests, physical therapy and psychiatric services.
The precincts where vote totals have not yet been reported are “mainly from the Coney Island portion of the district, including parts of the high-rises,” according to Councilmember Mark Treyger, a Lustig-Elgrably supporter, who has been pushing the Board of Elections for a resolution and who has been keeping the community apprised via Facebook.
According to Treyger, “There were some thumb-drives from certain poll sites that reported error messages when the Board of Elections attempted to retrieve the results. It is not clear why and unacceptable, but I’ve read press reports,” he added, “that this has happened at other poll sites across the city.”
Going forward, he said, the Board of Elections is bringing in scanning machines to help retrieve the results directly from the voting machines and that those results should be publicly available this coming week. Additionally, there are hundreds of paper ballots that have to be tabulated as well.
Kate Cucco, who challenged Harris in 2016, attended the rally. “I’m out here today to support Mathylde Frontus,” Cucco said. “It’s an injustice that several days post-election we don’t have returns from numerous EDs and several polling sites from each side of our district. We demand answers as to why these numbers haven’t been tallied and why we have not been given any information at this point.”
The missing vote tallies are not the only issue that has arisen with respect to the 46th A.D. primary.
During last Thursday night’s reception for Frontus at Applebee’s restaurant in Coney Island, her supporters were buzzing about a tweet Frontus had shared earlier about a letter NYCHA sent out telling residents at the Marlboro Houses, in Gravesend near the border of Coney Island, to stay home on Sept. 13 between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. for a home inspection, hindering some from being able to go out and vote.
According to a report in ProPublica, hundreds of residents of the Marlboro Houses received these notices. A NYCHA representative told this paper that these inspections were standard procedure and that they were made in order to inspect apartments for lead. When asked why they would schedule the inspections on primary day, the NYCHA rep could not answer.
Frontus has been an outspoken critic of NYCHA in the past, specifically targeting its handling of crumbling infrastructure and the over 1,000 children living in NYCHA buildings who have tested positive for lead poisoning.
“I don’t know what’s going on with the Board of Elections,” Bay Ridge Community Council member Linda Lupia told this paper. “Ms. Frontus was ahead and now there is nothing but silence. What does that mean for our district come November? Is there something going on that we are unaware of? I don’t know but I’d like an answer. I see nothing forthcoming and there’s zero percentage of votes in parts of the district. How could that conceivably be when voting is electronic and goes through a network? It’s up to the people to ask these questions and make our voices heard.”
The winner of the Democratic primary in the 46th A.D. will face Republican Steve Saperstein in November.