Updated: 11/18/20 – 6:01 P.M.
TOMPKINS COUNTY, NY (WSKG) – A New York Supreme Court judge dismissed a case brought by New York State Senate candidate Leslie Danks Burke against the Schuyler County Board of Elections on Monday.
Danks Burke is trying to unseat Republican incumbent Tom O’Mara in New York’s 58th senate district. That includes part of all of five counties in the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes.
The judge ruled that Danks Burke did not have jurisdiction over the board because the court papers relating to the case were not served valid court papers, instead commissioners, the county attorney and others received blank forms.
The suit alleged that her campaign was not allowed to see or inspect absentee and affidavit ballots that were rejected prior to the beginning of the absentee ballot counting. Those ballots were set aside and would not be counted. Danks Burke also alleged that the commissioners did not give her campaign explanations for why the ballots were rejected.
“My attorney went to serve our legal papers; the Board of Elections commissioner hid behind a locked door to avoid being served; the County Attorney then told my attorney that he could accept service, then turned around and told the courts that serving him was inadequate,” Danks Burke said in a statement after the case was dismissed.
“It’s dishonest, it’s disgraceful, and it’s further evidence of why we need real systemic change in the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes,” she added.
Schuyler County Attorney, Steven Getman said that Danks Burke’s characterization of the dismissal are false. Getman said the case was dismissed for reasons explained by the judge in the court documents and admitted to in court by the campaign’s attorney.
“The campaign’s attorney admitted to the judge on the record that the campaign failed to serve anyone from the county with the judge’s signed order to show cause on either Thursday (11/12) or Friday (11/13) as he had previously directed them to do,” Getman stated in an email to WSKG News.*
According to Danks Burke, the case relates to 75 to 100 ballots. The county’s unofficial count currently shows O’Mara with 5,910 votes to 3,576 for Danks Burke,
A representative for Danks Burke told WSKG on Monday she has not decided if she will appeal the decision or file another suit.
* This article has been updated to clarify the reason for the case dismissal.