Tenney, May seek court involvement in ballot counting

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With the contest for the 22nd Congressional District not yet settled as absentee, military and affidavit ballots to be counted starting next week, Republican candidate and Election Day leader Claudia Tenney has asked a state judge to impound ballots in her re-election bid in which some 60,000 absentee ballots were requested by voters.

Tenney and her attorney asserted in documents filed in state Supreme Court in Oswego County that election officials in the six counties in the 22nd District may alter canvassing procedures in ways that keep poll watchers from having proper access so they can make objections and record any objections.

Tenney and her attorney cited pressure to get votes counted and certified in time for New York state to present its electoral votes for president in early December.

Tenney also asked the judge to prevent election officials from opening absentee and affidavit ballot envelopes without letting her or her representatives inspect them and make objections or otherwise following set procedures for preserving ballots and related documentation such as envelopes. 

Affidavit ballots are filed by voters who believe they are entitled to vote but are not allowed to at the polling place, typically because their names are not on registration lists.

In response, the Oswego County Board of Elections filed a response saying there has been no reason shown to justify a judge impounding ballots and related material, and that a judge may review canvassing afterward if objections are raised.

The response further said ballot security is already covered in state election law.

Supreme Court Justice Scott DelConte scheduled a hearing for Monday on the matter.

Unusually large numbers of absentee ballots were requested by voters during the COVID-19 pandemic this year.

On Friday, the state Board of Elections reported just how many: 69,314 in the six counties in the 22nd Congressional
District.

Of those, 31,774 were requested by voters registered as Democrats, 20,928 by Republican-registered voters, and 12,001 by voters not in any party. Voters in minor parties make up the rest.

As of about noon Friday, the state Board of Elections reported 50,418 had been returned, including 23,631 from Democratic-registered voters, 15,158 Republicans, and 8,376 independents. Among minor parties, the Independence Party returned the most, 2,315.

Among ballots from early and Election Day voting, Tenney had 139,883 to 111,461 for Brindisi, an advantage of has a lead of 28,422 votes.

Meanwhile, state Sen. Rachel May, in a virtual tie with her Republican challenger, is also seeking court intervention in the contest for Senate District 53 in Madison County, southwestern Oneida County, and much of Onondaga County.

May asserted in court filings that the Onondaga County Board of Elections has not followed updated state election law regarding how to fix errors voters made in filling out and returning their absentee or affidavit ballots. May and her attorney did not ask that the canvass of paper ballots be stopped but only that the envelopes and ballots in question be photocopied under procedure in a 2003 case. 

May and Republican challenger Sam Rodgers were separated by only 136 votes after early and Election Day voting was reported in unofficial results by the state Board of Elections. May had 46,794 to Rodgers’ 46,658.

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