Attorneys at law for Anthony Brindisi and Claudia Tenney will begin zeroing today on 809 controversial ballots – two-thirds of a tenth of the vote – in order to decide a congressional election in which nearly 318,000 people voted.
Tenney, a Republican from the new Hartford, is leading Brindisi, D-Utica, by only 12 votes, according to official counts filed in court by eight counties in the 22nd Congressional District on Monday.
Now the focus will be on at least 809 missing and declaratory ballots, which have so far been disputed by the Brindisi and Tenney campaigns, according to data compiled by syracuse.com from all counties in the district.
That number could grow even further if campaign lawyers make challenges in legal papers due today at 4 p.m. in the Supreme Court of the State of Oswego.
A judge also requested more than 1,600 additional ballots, where Democratic and Republican election commissioners agreed, without objecting to the candidates, that votes should be rejected for obvious reasons, such as in cases where votes were cast by unregistered voters.
Judge Scott J. DelConte requested that all rejected ballot papers be sent to the courtroom last week for possible review. To count votes rejected, you must overwrite the election commissioners and both candidates have accepted their decision.
For the time being, this focuses on the 809 disputed absentee and statement ballots. The objections filed by both campaigns help shed light on the behind-the-scenes battle by lawyers fighting for each vote.
Tenney’s campaign discussed 227 missing ballots in the district, while 33 were unpublished in Brindisi and 12 were unpublished.
Missing ballots were handed over by letter or handed over in person to voters who did not want to vote in person at a polling station at the time of the coronavirus epidemic.
Brindisi disputed the rejection of at least 500 statements, as opposed to Tenney’s 35 and two ballots where the challenger could not be identified.
The statement, or temporary vote, is a paper-based ballot paper that voters receive in the polling station when their name or signature is missing from poll books, often as a result of a change in the voter’s name or address.
The final number of contested ballots is likely to increase by the time lawyers file their legal arguments this afternoon, as both campaigns erase the gains made by the other.
So far, even election officials do not know exactly how many ballots were cast in their counties.
Tenney’s lawyers argued last week that the courts do not have the power to review ballots because election officials in some counties did not write down the details of the voting debates on the back of the ballots.
Oneida County election officials also revealed that sticky notes had disappeared as to why some ballots had been attacked.
The disputed absences and statements were treated differently by the judge.
On November 10, DelConte ordered election officials to count all contested missing votes in the election pending its review.
DelConte also told election officials to set aside – and not count – all disputed statements.
For Tenney, this means the easiest way is to try to take the votes away from Brindisi by attacking the missing ballots that have already been credited to the congressman.
For Brindisi, the easiest way to get votes would be to convince the judge to count the statements that were initially rejected and not counted by the election commissioners.
Brindisi’s campaign is most in demand in Oneida County, where he lives in Utica, by challenging the rejection of at least 500 of his statements.
Carolann Cardone, a Democratic election commissioner in Oneida County, said some of the rejected statements were deemed incomplete because voters did not fill out Part B of the form. The section contains a box that voters should check stating that they have been informed that their registration is not valid.
The form also asks voters to publish the address where they previously registered to vote and how much time has passed since they moved, Cardone said.
Cardone said he has no concrete breakdown of the reasons for the challenges because this information is now locked in Oswego and awaiting a review by DelConte in his negotiator. But he said most of the rejections were based on the fact that voters were not registered to vote in the county or their ballots were incomplete, with an empty Part B.
Tenney’s campaign focused the challenge on the missing votes and directed almost all of his attention to Madison (132 votes) and Broome County (59 votes). These two counties account for 191 of the 227 missing ballots disputed by Tenney in the district.
In Madison County, Tenney’s campaign claimed that 92 of the 132 votes he challenged were the same mistake – they were timed by election workers on Nov. 4, a day after the election.
The disputed ballot papers were cast in a remote ballot box on election day but only checked in the next day, said Laura Costello, Madison County Election Commissioner.
Voters across the country were told by election officials that their absentee votes would count even without a stamp canceled if they arrive the day after the election.
In Chenango County, some of the 20 missing ballots objected to by Tenney’s campaign had extra tickets on the ballot – in one case, a check mark outside the oval next to the candidate’s name. In another case, the voter underlined the word “two” in addition to the instruction to select two court candidates.
The Brindisi and Tenney campaigns did not comment on their voting challenges and legal strategies when the election battle went to court.
The two candidates had little or no challenge in some of the smaller counties in the district.
In the counties of Cortland and Tioga, candidates did not dispute a ballot.
Nine ballots were discussed in Herkimer County and five missing ballots in Oswego County. In both counties, election officials refused to discuss the details of the challenges in court.
DelConte expressed disappointment last week that in some counties it was not easy to see details of whether certain contested votes were counted, who disputed or why.
He ordered Brindisi and Tenney’s attorneys to put their legal arguments about the disputed ballot papers in papers to be filed in court today by 4 p.m.
The next hearing on the case will be at DelConte’s Osswego court on Monday, December 7 at 1 p.m. The majority of witnesses to the case may have appeared by videoconference over the coronavirus epidemic.
More on the 2020 election
Chenango County will find 55 countless votes in the Brindisi-Tenney House contest
Tenney leads Brindisi with 12 in the first official vote count in the house election
3 people voted by mail in the Brindisi-Tenney contest and then died. What happens to their votes?
There are missing ballots over the lost sticky notes in the Brindisi-Tenney House race
The Brindisi-Tenney House competition was secretly and confused by campaigns over ballot papers
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