Campaigns react to reported lead change in 22nd District

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The court case that will likely decide who represents New York’s 22nd District in Congress resumes next week, after at least two media organizations reported incumbent first-term Democrat Anthony Brindisi has taken the lead — by 13 votes.

The Cook Political Report and WBNG television of Binghamton reported that after election boards in the eight-county district reported the votes they have counted to Supreme Court Justice Scott DelConte, Brindisi led former one-term Republican Congresswoman Claudia Tenney 155,435 votes to 155,422.

DelConte issued an injunction stopping certification of the results until he can review more challenged absentee, affidavit and other paper ballots and hear both sides’ arguments.

He directed both sides to file their motions by 5 p.m. Monday and counter arguments a day later, and scheduled oral arguments for Thursday in Supreme Court in Oswego County.

The judge also directed the election boards to report what they have so far. However, many ballots are in dispute. Some election commissioners admitted they are not sure whether some ballots have been counted into their existing totals, and that they did not follow the state-mandated procedure for recording objections to ballots by the respective campaigns.

Tenney had led by about 28,000 votes after early voting and Election Day ballots were cast, but Brindisi noted that absentee voting was greatly expanded this year to accommodate voters wary of voting in person during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Both campaigns issued statements after the reports of the new totals.

Tenney alluded to election reform championed by Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo and adopted in 2019 by the Democrat-controlled Legislature.

“Governor Cuomo’s unfair, unwise, and unilateral rules changes and administrative burdens overwhelmed our voting system and created this utter dysfunction,” Tenney’s announcement said.

“As a result, the law was not followed when ballots were challenged and tabulated in this election. The result remains far from resolved. Hundreds of ineligible ballots were illegally or improperly cast including votes by the dead, non-residents, or unregistered voters,” her statement added.

“Those ballots should not – and must not – be counted. The hearing in court has already established that the current tally includes invalid votes and that the process to review and count the massive amount of paper ballots is fractured,” the statement, which was released Wednesday, said. “Today’s misleading and inaccurate tally is rife with errors and mistakes that must be rectified before this election is certified. It is far from final.”

“Our team will fight to ensure the rights of every voter who cast a legal and proper ballot are preserved and not diluted. We cannot sacrifice accuracy for speed. When that is done, we feel strongly that Claudia Tenney will be certified the winner of the race for the 22nd District of New York,” it added.

Brindisi campaign spokesman Luke Jackson expressed confidence but acknowledged the outcome is not settled.

“Election results from the remaining counties in the district show Anthony Brindisi has now taken the lead. We are hopeful that once New York’s 22nd congressional district is certified, Representative Brindisi will be sworn in again to continue his bipartisan work on behalf of this district. As we’ve said from the start, once the election process is completed Anthony will be re-elected. Democracy might force us to wait sometimes, but voters’ faith in this process and our Republic should remain steadfast.”

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