Tuxedo Park vote count stopped by court order

TUXEDO PARK. Voters went to the polls on Tuesday to select a new mayor, but the results won’t be known until at least July 24.

| 21 Jun 2023 | 03:38

The court has issued a temporary restraining order on the vote count in Tuxedo Park, where the incumbent mayor is being challenged.

A petition was filed late Tuesday, as voters went to the polls, on behalf of resident Claudio Guazzoni de Zanett. It says the village clerk, Elizabeth Dougherty, had accepted ballots from voters who had not registered by the deadline.

Judge Maria S. Vazquez-Doles of Orange County Supreme Court ordered the vote count stopped on Tuesday and scheduled a hearing for July 24.

The village clerk conducts elections in Tuxedo Park and oversees the vote count. The judge ordered Dougherty to bring to the hearing all election day paper ballots, emergency ballots, absentee ballots, affidavit ballots, special ballots, and military ballots, along with official tally sheets and canvass sheets.

Other respondents to the petition include the mayor, David McFadden, who is being challenged by Marc Citrin; and two trustees, Joshua Scherer and Paul Brooke, who are running for re-election unopposed.

The judge invited both parties to bring witnesses or other evidence to support their case.

According to the petition, “Upon information and belief, Elizabeth Doherty has admitted that she failed to verify the eligibility of every person (185 in total) who applied for an absentee ballot for the 2023 General Election by not checking to see if those persons were registered.” It alleges that she mailed absentee ballots to 30 people not registered at the time the request was made, including 14 who still are not registered.

Sarcone says Guazzoni de Zanett is petitioning the court “in his capacity as the Public Advocate for Tuxedo Park and as an aggrieved voter.”

But McFadden says Guazzoni de Zanett is “self-appointed” and directly confronts him on the village’s website: “The Village of Tuxedo Park does not have an Office of the Public Advocate seat - not in the Village Code or by-election or appointment. Therefore, this resident should stop the charade or add ‘Self-Appointed’ on his tagline.”

McFadden recently updated the site to add a clarification.

Challenger not named in petition

There was some confusion regarding the initial documents Sarcone filed that included Citrin’s name as a petitioner. Sarcone said he refiled the documents to correct the mistake.

“The first submission was never accepted by the court, the court only acted on the correct petition papers which you received a full set last night,” he wrote in an email to The Photo News. “It was a chore to correct so I simply re-filed. These online forms are easy to mess up.”

Citrin confirmed he had nothing to do with the petition, adding that he wants to see all valid votes counted.

“I only saw the complete petition when I was served at home this evening,” he said in an email to the paper. “In fact, my position on the issue of the absentee ballots is that all ballots, other than those cast be persons not registered by the statutory deadline, should be counted.”

Brian Nugent, the village attorney, confirmed that the village has stopped counting all ballots.

“The Court, in light of the extremely short window last night, signed a TRO (temporary restraining order) preventing the Village Clerk from counting all absentee ballots among other directions,” Nugent wrote in an email to paper on Wednesday morning. “However, I am informed that at the election closing, Mr. Guazzoni was urging the clerk to count uncontested absentee ballots even though the Court had already issued an order at his request directing the Clerk not to count any absentee ballots. The Village cannot count any absentee ballots at this point based on the language of the TRO.”

Nugent said the village will “allow the merits to be addressed in court...once it is confirmed by Mr. Sarcone who the correct parties are in the proceeding.”

Note: This article has been updated from the original.