BINGHAMTON, NY (WSKG) — Absentee ballot counting in New York’s 22nd Congressional District began Tuesday. An Oswego County Supreme Court justice previously prohibited counties from starting the tally until legal questions from the candidates were answered.
Former Republican representative Claudia Tenney and incumbent Democrat Anthony Brindisi both filed lawsuits with the court requesting judicial supervision of the ballot-counting.
The court granted part of their requests in a decision issued Tuesday morning. The decision requires county election officials to photocopy and save any ballots campaign representatives inspect and object to for a judge to review later.
Counties in the district subject to the ruling include Oswego, Oneida, Madison, Cortland, Broome, Tioga, Herkimer and Chenango.
Democratic Commissioner Thomas Brown has worked for the Cortland County Board of Elections for 12 years. He said he’s seen election litigation like this before.
“Everybody wants to be sure that they’re being represented and that they have an opportunity to voice concerns,” Brown said. “It happens. It’s not uncommon.”
He said a lot of money went into this race. The election is among the House races with national attention.
Tenney had a lead after election night, with nearly 30,000 more votes than Brindisi. Both campaigns, however, have stated that all votes must be counted before a winner is declared.
At least 50,000 mail-in ballots were returned throughout the district as of Monday.
The decision also orders all county election boards to make public records readily available to the campaigns upon request.
Laura Brazak, Democratic Commissioner for the Oswego County Board of Elections, said the board communicates with the campaigns daily throughout election season.
“We give them the number of absentee ballots, we give them the number broken down by party, by district. That is information that is part of the process,” Brazak said. “We do that in advance and we’ve done it for every election, including this one.”
The increased volume of absentee ballots received this year will lengthen the process, she said. In 2018, Brindisi was not declared the winner until Nov. 20, two weeks after Election Day.
Brown said Cortland County may finish counting ballots by the end of the week, but contested ballots may draw out the process. Districts must still certify a winner within 25 days after an election, according to New York State election law.