The Village for All Party has called on the Nassau County Board of Elections to oversee the Village of Great Neck election on June 18, suggesting in a letter dated May 28 that the “operation and integrity of the election process” is threatened.
In a letter sent to the Village of Great Neck and Nassau County Board of Elections, mayoral candidate James Wu said the unexpected departure of Village Clerk-Treasurer Joe Gill earlier this year to become a treasurer in Hempstead Village has left the Great Neck Village without an experienced election supervisor.
“This threatens the operation and integrity of the election process,” said Wu, who is running on the Village for All slate. “To ensure a smooth and fair election, the Village of Great Neck must ask the Nassau County Board of Elections to manage the upcoming village election.”
Wu also alleged there have been “election improprieties” in the previous elections, such as improper processing of absentee ballots and failure to hold an election review in a public forum.
In the letter, Wu also said the acting village clerk, Karen Green, initially said the village does not process campaign committee filings and “refused attempts to process such filings.” He also alleged she said candidate acceptance and declination filings should not be filed at all, while insisting use of a party logo “was not proper.”
“Every time we tried filing something we were told, ‘we don’t do that here, we don’t take that,’” Wu said in a follow-up interview.
Green did not return a request for comment about the letter and its allegations Tuesday.
Bonnie Garone, counsel to the Democratic commissioner for the Nassau County Board of Elections, said that under the law, only the village can ask the county election board to manage the election.
Even if the request were to be made and a resolution was adopted by the village board, it could end up subject to a “permissive referendum” by residents, Garone said. And then, even if there was no petition for a referendum, the election board is not permitted to act sooner than six months.
“Unfortunately, we have no jurisdiction in the matter,” Garone said. “The village clerk is the responsible party [for election matters.]”
“They are run by the village and the office who is responsible for doing that is the village clerk,” Garone added, “but the village clerk should have access to legal counsel if they have questions about how to proceed.”
Wu also said in the letter that the search for election inspectors spanned from Great Neck Village to Port Washington, initially leading to only three of six inspectors being from the village.
“Choosing individuals foreign to our village elections and without any knowledge of doing an election in our village is unusual,” Wu said in the follow-up interview.
In a separate email, Wu said he was informed by Green that there will now be four election inspectors, all of whom are Great Neck residents: Philip Raices, Elizabeth Salamat Shalom, Bahar Hakimian, and the most recently added, Gilda Tornato.
There would also be alternates and clerical support on hand to assist.
Garone said that under the law village residents are to be inspectors, but that a shortage of willing inspectors allows for a search beyond the village.
“My understanding of the election law as it pertains to the villages in Nassau, the inspectors are to be residents of the village,” Garone said. “If that’s not possible, because sometimes there isn’t enough, they can go outside the village.”