Judge orders records preserved in Tenney-Brindisi race

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A state judge on Monday ordered elections officials to preserve records showing how they calculated the results of an extremely close congressional race in central New York after two counties reported errors or changes in vote tallies over the holiday weekend.

Republican Claudia Tenney appeared to take a lead of 12 votes after each county board of elections reported its tallies, with 155,492 votes to 155,480 for incumbent first-term Democrat Anthony Brindisi.

The winner in the 22nd Congressional District, which stretches from Lake Ontario to the Pennsylvania border, won’t be determined until state Supreme Court Justice Scott DelConte rules on challenges to more than 2,000 disputed absentee and affidavit ballots.

With the race so tight, the eight counties involved in tabulating results have been under enormous pressure to get every vote counted correctly — and some have apparently struggled to do so.

In a letter to the court on Sunday, a lawyer for Brindisi’s campaign told DelConte he learned that Herkimer County had discovered a transcription error that, when fixed, netted Tenney an additional 35 votes and Brindisi an additional 10.

Brindisi attorney Martin Connor said he was “deeply troubled by the fact that Herkimer County adjusted its tabulations outside of public view, without public notice, without publication of its new results” and in violation of the court’s order for the Board of Elections to produce final tabulations to the campaigns by Nov. 25.

In addition to Herkimer County’s error, Madison County also adjusted its original vote tally, prompting DelConte on Monday to order all of the counties involved in tabulating the race to “preserve and secure” all written and digital records related to the tallying of votes, and not to make any alterations or changes in worksheets, spreadsheets or other tallying records.

“These communications raise additional, very serious concerns to the court about the pending judicial review of the challenged ballots in this Congressional race,” DelConte wrote.

DelConte ordered each county to submit a final vote tally by 4 p.m. Monday and scheduled oral arguments for Dec. 7. Tenney represented the district until 2018, when Brindisi, defeated her by fewer than 4,500 votes.

Tenney campaign spokesperson Sean Kennedy said Monday that her campaign believes it will prevail. “We are encouraged that local elections officials have corrected their early tabulations and we are now ahead,” Kennedy said.

Brindisi campaign spokesman Luke Jackson noted the margin continues to change but again expressed confidence. “The integrity of the election and maintaining a count that ensures the voters of this district are heard is of the utmost importance. As this process continues to play out, we are hopeful that once the counting process is completed, Anthony will be declared the winner.”

Oneida County’s updated tally filed Monday showed Tenney received 50,075 votes in the county to Brindisi’s 48,479 on all their respective party lines. Tenney won in Rome, 6,326 to 6,042, and Brindisi doubled Tenney’s votes in Utica, 12,210 to 6,074.

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