UPDATED: 1/22/21 — 4:09 P.M.
SYRACUSE, NY (WSKG) — Lawyers for Democrat Anthony Brindisi and Republican Claudia Tenney met on Friday to give their final arguments in the neck-and-neck race for New York’s 22nd Congressional District.
The seat is the only one still vacant in all of Congress.
Tenney currently leads by 29 votes nearly three months after the November election, but there are about 1,100 ballots on which presiding Oswego County Supreme Court Justice Scott DelConte has yet to rule, along with all Oneida County affidavit ballots the Boards of Election must recanvass.
More than 2,400 voter registration applications, filed in time, were not processed by the Oneida County Board of Elections. The voters submitted electronically via the Department of Motor Vehicles. The error led to the rejection of those voters’ affidavit ballots on the grounds that they were not registered.
According to an order issued by DelConte earlier this month, the Board of Elections failed to review any of the 2,400 registration forms during its canvass of ballots. The court has since returned all Oneida County affidavit ballots to the Board of Elections so it can canvass them again and correct errors stemming from the unprocessed applications. It must report their corrections by Jan. 27.
Brindisi appealed that order on Thursday, arguing that the court does not have the jurisdiction to order corrections regarding the unprocessed registrations through the means of another canvass and demanding that the court halt further corrections. As of Friday afternoon, the justice did not sustain that appeal.*
During Friday’s virtual proceeding, Brindisi’s lawyer, Bruce Spivo, said ballots not counted as a result of ministerial errors by the Boards of Elections should be counted in favor of the voter. He hesitated, however, to say that applied to every vote in question.
DelConte took issue with the Democrat’s stance, stating that he intends to apply the power to correct ballots afforded by New York’s election law “as fairly as he can” to ensure that every legally cast vote is counted.
“There’s no doubt in my mind where I’m going with this: every legal vote means every legal vote,” DelConte said. “There are no ‘buts.’”
Giving only brief remarks, Paul DerOhannessian, the lawyer for Tenney’s campaign, said not every error in question appeared to be ministerial. In a written brief submitted Wednesday, DerOhannessian raised the argument that there was suspicious or illegal activity in the casting of two Oneida County ballots in which the voter voted twice. The Oneida County Board of Elections there did not substantiate those claims.
DelConte thanked the campaigns for their briefs and said that he will rule on the 1,100 challenged ballots in question next week.
*This story has been updated to include the appeal by the Brindisi campaign to halt the canvass in Oneida County.