ALBANY, N.Y. — A New York state judge has ordered eight counties in the state’s 22nd Congressional District to fix a host of ballot-tracking errors in order to tabulate precise vote counts in one of the nation’s last undecided House races.
Following a public hearing on Monday, state Supreme Court Justice Scott DelConte, who has been overseeing the counts, said on Tuesday that more than 1,500 uncounted ballots will be included in the final count. That will help determine whether or not Rep. Anthony Brindisi, a one-term Democrat, has survived a strong challenge from Republican Claudia Tenney, who held the seat for a term before Brindisi defeated her in 2018. Tenney leads by a dozen votes out of more than 315,000 cast.
DelConte also said that all county boards of elections must correct a host of canvassing errors that have popped up, including those regarding the marking of contested ballots. Sticky notes, for instance, are not supposed to be used. If the errors cannot be fixed individually, a county board of elections will need to do another complete count of those groups of ballots to make sure all of them have been included, the order says.
All yet-to-be-counted ballots, which include hundreds of affidavits and a couple of random boxes that have cropped up in Chenango County, will be included. And the boards of elections must conduct a full search to make sure they’ve found all those uncounted ballots, DelConte wrote, expressing his personal frustration with the oversight by local officials.
Despite the failures, DelConte also stated that there are no indications, or even allegations, of fraud.
What this means: The order is a partial win for Brindisi, who asked the court for similar action last week after a series of setbacks in the process that left him trailing Tenney by a dozen votes. Tenney wanted that count to be certified, arguing that the multiple counting errors proved the inconsistencies in the process were too vast to move forward with the additional ballots that counties could not verify had not been counted.
Now what: The ruling drags out the final result even longer, and this is only the first count. DelConte wrote that the court will not declare a winner and that his role is solely to make sure the vote counting laws have been followed. Depending on who ultimately prevails, both parties are expected to challenge the likely razor-thin margin in court. Lawyers are scheduled to meet on Dec. 18.