A mailer sent by the campaign of Long Island Congressman Lee Zeldin (R-NY) gave absentee voters the wrong date by which to postmark their ballots.
A student from Binghamton University in upstate New York shared a photograph of the mailer in question in a Facebook group. The mailer reads, in part, “I urge you to exercise [the right to vote] by completing your requested absentee ballot and postmarking it by November 6th.” The quote is attributed to Zeldin himself.
Election day is indeed November 6, but in New York, absentee ballots must be postmarked by November 5 in order to count. The mailers reportedly targeted many Long Island college students who reside on campuses outside the district, and tend to vote Democratic by fairly wide margins.
The Zeldin campaign blamed the error on their printing service, and shared a statement from the vendor taking responsibility for running the incorrect information.
For a campaign to make such an egregious typo even once, on a mailer sent two weeks before election day, strains credulity. Lee Zeldin’s campaign has now made the same error twice, in two consecutive elections.
— Adam Nathaniel Peck (@adamnpeck) October 23, 2018
In 2016, Zeldin’s campaign also gave voters the wrong date by which absentee ballots must be postmarked. His campaign similarly blamed the mistake on a typo, and claimed it would send out corrected versions of the mailer.
New York’s First Congressional District has seen its fair share of unethical maneuvering by Republican congressional candidates. Before Zeldin captured the seat in 2014, the district was represented by Democrat Tim Bishop, who narrowly kept his seat in the 2010 midterm wave of Tea Party candidates. His Republican opponent during that election tried to invalidate the provisional ballots of every single college student who voted using their dormitory address, arguing they were not legal residents of the district. New York State law clearly allows for students to use campus addresses when registering to vote.
It is also one of the most hotly contested districts in the country, covering most of Long Island’s Suffolk County. Despite several progressive enclaves within the district — including the Hamptons, and the area surrounding Stony Brook University, a large state university — it went for Donald Trump in 2016 by a fairly wide margin.
Zeldin has been one of Trump’s most reliable allies in Congress. Several current and former Trump administration officials — including Sebastian Gorka, Steve Bannon, and the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr. — have campaigned or held fundraisers for Zeldin.
Zeldin’s opponent, Democrat Perry Gershon, recently blasted the Zeldin campaign for what he called the latest effort at voter disenfranchisement.
“It’s a baldfaced attempt at voter suppression in Democratic areas of Suffolk County,” said Tim Minton, the communications director for the Gershon campaign.