Former Senator Al Coppola would have decisively won the Democratic party nomination for State Senate, but the Buffalo News didn’t want to tell you about Marc Panepinto’s history of election fraud.
“That publication did everything it could to downplay Coppola’s campaign, and to play defense for Panepinto,” said one longtime reader. “They exposed themselves as phony journalists. I think we all realize they are propagating corporate sponsored messages that are funded by special interests.”
The Buffalo News refused to even call Coppola for a quote until the day before the primary. Even then, it was to respond to an attack from Panepinto, who was given several paragraphs of column space and several paragraphs of quotes.
Now, Coppola is down by 613 votes, with the absentees still left to be counted. I’m told that Coppola sent the absentee voters literature and that Panepinto did not.
There will also be a standard auditing of 3% of randomly selected election districts across the county, which will take place next week.
The final vote tally doesn’t get certified until the 15th.
Suspiciously on election night, at around 10:10 pm, 76% of election districts were reporting and Coppola trailed Panepinto by less than 500 votes. Then the reporting paused for over 45 minutes. No districts were updating.
Then, all of a sudden, the 36 remaining election districts all reported within the same 2 minute span of time, just before 11:00 pm. Then suddenly, the Board of Elections’ website displayed 100% of the vote reported — with Coppola only 613 votes down.
In a world where all of these votes are counted electronically and reported to the Board of Elections in relatively real time — why would it take nearly two hours after polls closed to get 36 election districts to report?
Given that Panepinto is the machine candidate backed by party headquarters and long entrenched in the region’s politics — few people are willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. Given his willingness to commit election fraud in the past, political operatives have been openly question his ethics.
“Would Marc Panepinto use some fringe polling workers to stuff ballot boxes at the last minute,” they ask, genuinely unsure.
“We would need to know which districts were being held back from reporting, and which political operatives were working those polling sites,” the operative suggests.
“If the characters are closely connected to Panepinto and not reputable, then we need to audit the boxes’ electronic scanner and see the timeline of when the ballots were cast,” said one election attorney who asked not to be named. “If we start finding that 50 votes were cast all at 9:05 pm, then 50 more over the next site, so on an so forth, then we have a real problem.”
Even in the absence of intended fraud, in a race that is so close, there is always human error in the counting of the votes. Poll workers must physically read a printed tabulation of votes from each scanner and tally them by polling place. The polling place then calls in the tallies to the Board of Elections, which compiles a fully tally of votes across hundreds of election districts.
When humans are reporting numbers in such a close election — where a particular district may have cast 82 votes for the candidate on Line 3A and 88 for the candidate on Line 3B, and reporting numbers cast in several different races — there is a lot of room for human error in the tabulation.
Coppola may still come out on top, and he’s got a big base of support rooting for him.