patel sues

Suraj Patel, Indian American candidate for the 12th Congressional District of New York. (Facebook photo/Suraj Patel for New York)

With votes still left to be counted in the Democratic primary for the 12th Congressional District in New York, Indian American challenger Suraj Patel is taking proactive measures in his bout with longtime incumbent Rep. Carolyn Maloney.

Patel, trailing Maloney by only 648 votes in the unofficial machine count in the June 23 Democratic primary (see India-West article here: https://bit.ly/3g5hgiX), filed a lawsuit urging the New York state Supreme Court to supervise the final tally in the race — including counting of an unprecedented number of absentee ballots requested during the coronavirus pandemic, the New York Post reported.

The suit lists Maloney, the city Board of Elections and the other candidates in the race, Lauren Ashcraft and Peter Harrison, as defendants.

Under state law, a candidate has to file a legal challenge within 10 days of the election to preserve the right to question the vote counts, the report said.

Because of the Independence Day holiday, that means petitions must be filed by July 2, it notes.

The Patel campaign petition said the election law “confers authority upon this court to determine and resolve any disputes arising out or relating to the canvass of ballots and returns in the primary election.”

It’s likely that there will be more absentee or mail-in votes cast than in-person votes from the June 23 primary. The counting of paper ballots begins next week, the publication said.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order making it easier to vote by absentee ballot to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 at polling sites —750,000 voters requested mail-in ballots citywide, the Post said.

The unofficial machine count had Maloney in front with 16,473 votes to 15,825 for Patel, 5,268 for Ashcraft and 1,933 for Harrison. But the results varied by borough, it said.

Maloney, 74, first elected in 1992, carried the East Side of Manhattan – the largest portion of the district and long her political base – with 2,553 more votes more than Patel. Maloney received 12,216 votes to Patel’s 9,663 in Manhattan.

Patel, 36, a hotel magnate who worked for former President Barack Obama, garnered 1,365 more votes than Maloney in Brooklyn and 540 more votes in Queens, the report said.

An unprecedented 109,000 Democrats in the 12th District requested an absentee ballot.

But the lion’s share of the paper ballot requests — 79,000 — came from Manhattan’s East Side, the report said. The Board of Elections has already received 11,064 of the absentee ballots from Manhattan compared to 4,417 from Queens and 135 from Brooklyn, it said.

If the count of mail-in ballots follows the machine count, Maloney would expand her lead and became the clear victor – an outcome she has predicted.

Patel is represented by election lawyer Stanley Schlein in the court proceeding. Attorney and former state Sen. Martin Connor is representing Maloney, according to the report. 

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