Lawyers for Democratic Congressman Tim Bishop are expected in court Tuesday to demand a complete recount of last week's vote in Long Island's first district, according to a Bishop campaign spokesman.
The effort follows a wild vote swing in Bishop's re-election bid against Republican challenger Randy Altschuler.
When the congressman went to bed election night, he had a more than thirty four hundred vote lead over Altschuler; but, after the numbers were checked late last week, Bishop's lead vanished. Altschuler now holds a 383 vote advantage.
"My first question was the question many are asking -- what the heck happened?" said Bishop campaign spokesman Jon Schneider.
Officials from the Suffolk County Board of Elections refused comment on the cause of the vote count mistakes -- but, both Altschuler himself and the Bishop campaign blamed "human error."
"The polls opened at 6 a.m. and people were there from 6 a.m. until well past midnight and people make mistakes," said Altschuler at his Farmingville campaign headquarters.
The new computerized voting machines appear to have played a role in the mistakes. Poll workers unfamiliar with the new machines may have simply misread or misreported the numbers coming from them after the polls closed, according to the Bishop and Altschuler camps.
Thirty to forty percent of the election districts in this Congressional race had vote count errors, according to a county source. There were similar problems in a tight state Assembly race pitting incumbent Democrat Marc Alessi against Republican Daniel Losquadro.
In that race, a forty vote Losquadro lead on election night has ballooned to a more than 890 votes.
The Suffolk county board of elections did begin an audit or accuracy check of a small number of voting machines Monday; but the Bishop camp has insisted the only way to demonstrate the accuracy of all machines is a complete recount of every paper ballot.
"This is the time to look at every piece of paper, count 'em up and whoever wins, wins," said Schneider.
The Altschuler camp has yet to commit to supporting a recount but didn't rule that out.
"The only thing we want is to make sure every vote is counted and the people get their true representative," insisted Altschuler.
A New York State Supreme Court judge will eventually rule on the recount request.
Recount or not, more than 10,000 absentee and affidavit ballots are still to be counted and those votes could ultimately decide this tight race.