POUGHKEEPSIE – Dutchess County Court Judge Peter Forman, a Republican, is seeking re-election and is being challenged by attorney Jessica Segal, a Democrat. Both candidates sought to have their name on the Independence Party ballot line in November, which triggered a primary.
When the ballots were counted, the margin between the two was very narrow. On July 10, Judge Forman issued a statement saying in part, “I am still up in the vote count but the margin has gotten smaller. Due to some irregularities with ballots and voting machines, and the conduct of some poll site workers, I have filed a lawsuit in order to uphold the integrity of the election and ensure that every properly-cast vote is counted.”
The trial began this week in Dutchess County with Supreme Court Judge Paul Marx of Rockland County presiding. One of the issues raised by Judge Forman’s attorney, John Ciampoli, was the signatures on many of the absentee or “mail-in” ballots.
Ciampoli called New York City graphologist Roger Rubin to examine the ballots and compare them to the signatures on file with the Board of Elections (BOE).
According to Segal, the witness changed his testimony on several ballots. Segal recounted that Rubin first said the signatures were not the same and later changed his testimony and declared the signatures valid. On day one of the trial, Segal’s attorney David Sears tried to prevent Rubin’s testimony because he is not “certified” in the field of graphology. Ciampoli argued that Rubin has repeatedly testified in similar cases, including those in Dutchess County. Judge Marx has accepted the credentials and experience of the witness.
Segal, an accomplished attorney, and a political newcomer called the process “A true learning experience.”
A total of 116 ballots are in question and Judge Marx will decide the fate of those ballots and ultimately which candidate will appear on the Independence line.
Forman currently holds a 72 vote lead over Segal.
Judge Marx is expected to issue his decision on August 11.