Betty Jean Grant Wednesday afternoon launched plans for what she called a fourth court fight seeking to get a State Supreme Court justice to personally oversee a recount of what she and her supporters contend was the mishandling of almost 500 votes cast in the 63rd State Senate primary Sept. 18.
The votes were cast by inner city voters, many given new voting places within about a week of the primary.
During a 40-minute rally outside the Erie County Board of Election headquarters, Grant, chairwoman of the Erie County Legislature, told several dozen supporters she hopes the new legal challenge is not returned to State Supreme Court Justice Joseph R. Glownia. She said she hoped for "a more objective" judge to handle the new case.
A preliminary count Tuesday of absentee and military ballots in the race stretched by 191 votes the 91-vote Primary Night lead of State Sen. Timothy M. Kennedy, the incumbent.
Still a key issue are hundreds of affidavit ballots, Grant and her supporters said.
Frank Messiah, president of the Buffalo chapter of the NAACP, Grant and other speakers at the rally noted that a number of inner city voters were forced to sign affidavits when told they had mistakenly come to their old voting district locations, after they had been reassigned to a new district a week before the balloting.
Grant said the same process was not used in the South Buffalo voting districts which favored Kennedy.
Cariol J. Horne, a former Buffalo police officer and community activist, told the crowd she was sent to three voting districts on Primary Day because election supervisors didn't seem to be able to immediately decide where her new voting district was located in the Richmond-Summer-Elmwood section of the city.
Grant said many voters routinely ignore the small postcards the Elections Board sends to voters reporting on voting districts. She said the board, given the drastic changes in many inner city voting districts this year, should have sent out certified letters to voters whose districts were changed at the last minute, to properly alert them of the changes.
Mesiah noted many voters went to their old districts, only to be told they had been transferred to a new district. They were forced to sign affidavits, some 479 of which the Elections Board canvass is continuing to examine.
Former State Sen. Antoine Thompson, a Grant volunteer, said many Grant votes are being invalidated because inner city voters distrust the system and write in the name of their candidates as well as sign the ballots.
Thompson predicted the Senate seat will be won by one of the candidates by less than 100 votes.
Elections officials declined comment on the rally outside their building.
The canvassing could run into early next week before a final tally is made.