After the first hours
of a two-week vote recount, Democrats claimed Monday that their
candidate for the state Senate from Yonkers had wiped out almost all
of her unofficial deficit and moved within 288 votes of the powerful
Republican incumbent, Nicholas Spano.
The GOP's election
lawyer, John Ciampoli, acknowledged some gains for Democrat Andrea
Stewart-Cousins but said, "None of this means anything until
all the recanvass of the machines is done, over and finished."
The count was
partial, with just 15 percent of the machine vote checked by late
afternoon. But the quick recovery buoyed the forces of
Stewart-Cousins, a Westchester County legislator who took on the
Senate's assistant majority leader and a nine-term veteran.
"If this trend
holds, we are confident that Andrea Stewart-Cousins will be the next
state senator from the 35th Senate District," said the
Democrats' election lawyer, Henry Berger, who was at the recount in
a machine storage warehouse in Yonkers.
A Spano defeat would
mean a third seat whittled from the 38-24 majority Senate
Republicans had earlier this year.
The unofficial vote
total, with 99 percent of the precincts reporting, gave Spano a lead
of 1,674 votes. He had 54,120 votes, or 51 percent, to
Stewart-Cousins' 52,446 votes, or 49 percent.
Republicans knew that gap was inflated and added, "I am neither
surprised nor panicked."
The two sides have
traded allegations about irregularities in the voting, with
Republicans claiming voters were imported from New York City and
Democrats claiming voters were harassed and voting machines were
tampered with. All machines and records were impounded by judges.
The county Board of
Elections disclosed Friday that seals on 22 machines were damaged or
As the recount
progressed on Monday, election workers, closely watched by
representatives of the campaigns, compared vote totals recorded on
machines with the tallies reported by poll workers on Election
director of the state Democrats' campaign committee, said Berger
told him that nearly every machine had a higher count for
Stewart-Cousins than was recorded. However, Spano also gained votes,
including 80 from one machine, Rosen said.
All machines in
Yonkers -- and in portions of Greenburgh and Mount Pleasant that are
in the Senate district -- are scheduled to be recounted by