In Calling Lys Liar, Reform Dems Are Called Out

The Democratic primary will be held on Thursday. Durell Godfrey

Days before Thursday's Democratic primary to determine the party's candidate for a seat on the East Hampton Town Board, the East Hampton Reform Democrats and their town board candidate, David Gruber, have falsely accused David Lys, the East Hampton Democratic Committee's nominee, of lying about his write-in vote for president in the 2016 election. Mr. Lys stands by his statement, and information from the Suffolk County Board of Elections backs him up.

In an editor's note on a letter in the Aug. 30 issue of The Star, Mr. Lys said he had cast a write-in vote for his father, Hakim Lys, in 2016, and had not voted for Donald Trump. An editorial in last week's paper repeated that statement, calling Reform Democrats' assertions to the contrary false.

As evidence of their claim, the Reform Democrats have disseminated a vote tally from the Suffolk County Board of Elections in emails and on social media. Below the Republican, Democratic, and third-party candidates' names and the number of votes each received are 12 write-in candidates and their vote tallies. Hakim Lys is not among them.

An email sent by the Reform Democrats on Monday morning bore the headline "David Lys Misleads East Hampton Star About His Presidential Vote in 2016," and went on to state that "The official Suffolk County Board of Elections tally for the 2016 Presidential Election shows that NO ONE voted for Hakim Lys, David Lys's father, in all Suffolk County." A copy of the final results for the Nov. 8, 2016 general election is included. 

However, the evidence they offer is a "half-truth," Mr. Lys said on Tuesday. Mr. Lys stands by his statement and is "disappointed by their actions," he said. 

In two separate calls to the board of elections on Monday, officials explained that the list presented by the Reform Democrats was not proof that no one wrote in Hakim Lys's name. Those listed on the final-results document had probably notified the board of elections of their candidacy, one said. "If you notify us, you get your name printed," said the official, who did not want to be named. As an example, she said that Mickey Mouse, a perennial write-in candidate, is not listed in the 2016 results.  

Votes for such candidates "would be considered a scattering," said another official, who also asked not to be named. That official agreed to speak to the commissioner and endeavor to provide the names of those grouped under the "scattering" umbrella.

Mr. Gruber said on Monday that an official at the board of elections first read the names of write-in candidates receiving votes to him over the telephone. "I said, 'Okay, thank you, that gives me the information I need,' because I did not hear Hakim in the list. Then I said, 'Please, I need you to send me a document that says this, because nobody is going to take my word for it.' They did."

The board of elections' final-results list, which the Reform Democrats offered as proof that Ms. Lys was lying, lists 4,087 scattering votes countywide.

In an email on Tuesday morning, Cate Rogers, chairwoman of the East Hampton Democratic Committee, wrote that she, too, had called the board of elections and was informed that "the only names that you see on that report as write-ins are official write-in candidates. Official means that the board of elections received a letter from the state stating that the candidate is a recognized candidate for write-in. All other names: Mickey Mouse, Barack Obama, David Lys' dad, Hakim Lys, and any other random name are reported in the 'Scatterings' column. In Suffolk County there were thousands of 'Scatterings' as you can see," she said. A 2016 election report for East Hampton Town lists 85 votes under the "Scattering" column. 

"This attempt to say that David Lys is a liar is so blatant and egregious and if the truth still matters in our world then this should be exposed," Ms. Rogers said.

Mr. Lys also referred to the 85 scatterings in East Hampton on Tuesday. "My write-in would be part of that scattering on there," he said.

The Reform Democrats, he said, are offering as evidence "a form that shows individuals who wanted to put their write-in names on the ballot. I did not do that for my father. It was a decision I did at the ballot booth. I would be classified in there as a scattering. That was not shown" on the Reform Democrats' messaging, he said. "They are trying to call me a liar. I am not."

A Suffolk County Board of Elections breakdown of East Hampton votes for president in 2016 shows under the “Scattering” column that 85 write-in votes were cast here.