The memory sticks from voting machines and all ballots in Cortland County, and all other counties in the 22nd Congressional District have been impounded by a state court order, as absentee ballots are to be opened today for counting.
A Cortland County sheriff’s lieutenant is watching over the ballots today, said Bob Howe, the Cortland County elections commissioner. “Sometimes it’s nice to have the deputy here as a calming effect,” Howe said.
Impounding the ballots was requested by Democrat Anthony Brindisi, who holds a tight lead over incumbent Republican Claudia Tenney for the 22nd Congressional District seat. More than 11,000 absentee ballots, and perhaps as many as 16,000 remain to be counted.
That may force a one-day delay in final tallies, Howe said. “We were supposed to do it today,” Howe said, but a judge must rule on the ballots — which occurs this afternoon — and two Democrats and two Republicans must be brought in to examine each absentee ballot.
The county has received 969 absentee ballots of 1,214 it sent out, up from 921 the morning after the election, he said. Another 159 affidavit ballots have been filed, of which 118 were ruled valid. Howe expects final tallies by Wednesday.
Tenney has yet to concede the race, due to the number of absentee ballots still to be counted. Wednesday morning, after the general election last week, Brindisi held a 1,400-vote lead over Tenney, although that was reduced to fewer than 1,300 because of a problem with a polling machine in the town of Barker, in Broome County.
Nationwide, the Tenney-Brindisi race is among the last 10 House races to be decided, reports the New York Times. Democrats have so far flipped 32 districts of the 435-seat House, guaranteeing it at least a 19-vote majority with 227 representatives. However, Democrats also lead in four of the 10 undecided races.
There were 16,597 absentee ballots sent out across the district, reports the state Board of Elections. If the ballots were postmarked by Nov. 5, they have until today to be received and counted. There were 11,417 absentee ballots collected the morning after the general election — more could have been received since then.
In total, Utica-based Brindisi, the Assembly member for the 119th District, received 117,931 votes against the 116,638 received by Tenney, of New Hartford — excluding the absentee votes.
In Cortland County, Brindisi got about 1,600 votes more votes than Tenney, 8,597 to 6,970.