Judge Orders Mishandled Ballots to Be Included in NY-22 Vote Count

Over a month after Election Day, the NY-22 congressional race has yet to be decided. In fact, it is the only remaining House race to be called. Republican Claudia Tenney is currently 12 votes ahead and has urged the certification of the results. However, NY Supreme Court Justice Scott J. DelConte has ordered election officials from 8 counties to recanvass ballots — including some that were previously mishandled by local officials. This is problematic because it sets a precedent for allowing votes to be counted after the statuary period to do so has expired.

According to Syracuse.com:

[Justice DelConte] ordered each county election board in the 22nd Congressional District to recheck counting errors that surfaced in recent weeks, and review about 2,200 absentee and affidavit ballots, including 809 disputed by the campaigns. All told, voters cast 60,000 absentee and affidavit ballots in the election.

Where it’s not possible to correct the errors, the counties must go back and conduct a manual recount of any ballot in question, DelConte wrote in a 20-page order. The total number of ballots that will ultimately have to be counted by hand will be determined by each county.

Justice DelConte's order can be read in its entirety here.

The NY-22 congressional race has been fraught with problems – so many that the state boards of elections is unable to certify the results without the court's permission.

As reported by Fox News yesterday:

In a hearing Monday to determine how to proceed with the certification process, DelConte noted that 12 uncounted ballots were found in a drawer in rural Chenango County last week, the Observer-Dispatch reported. Last week, officials discovered another 55 uncounted ballots in the same county. Of those 55 votes, 11 were cast by unregistered voters.

Tenney’s team have argued the judge should certify the election results as they currently stand, which would establish the Republican candidate as representative-elect. Her attorneys argue the court does not have the authority to determine whether the ballots should count.

The Brindisi campaign has called for an audit to address errors in the tabulation process, including an instance in Oneida County in which the local elections board used sticky notes to identify disputed ballots.

As noted by WSKG:

According to New York State election law 9-114, election commissioners must note all ballots candidates object to by writing the commissioner’s ruling and reason for the candidate’s challenge in ink on the ballot’s back.

Several of the eight counties in the district, however, did not adhere to these rules.

Instead, the Madison County Board of Elections used a spreadsheet to track the challenges. In Oneida County, the Board of Elections organized ballots into piles with sticky notes to differentiate ballots that had been counted and challenged from those that commissioners rejected and did not count. In transport to the Oswego court for review last month, some of those sticky notes appeared to go missing.

The Oneida County election commissioners said that made it impossible to track whether some of the votes were even counted.

The problems experienced in New York's 22nd Congressional District should come as no surprise. As Tenney explained to Laura Ingraham this past weekend, the dramatic changes made to the state election system in response to the COVID-19 pandemic have led to widespread issues:

The New York-22 congressional race is yet another example of how sweeping changes to elections under the guise of the COVID-19 pandemic and poor election administration undermines the election system as a whole. The process of recanvassing could take weeks to complete, and it is possible that the winner of the race will not be seated until after January 3rd, the first day of the new Congress.