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Brindisi adds to lead in Cortland

Anthony Brindisi, the Democratic candidate for the 22nd Congressional District, added more than 200 votes to his lead Wednesday over incumbent Republican Claudia Tenney in Cortland County following a count of more than 1,000 ballots — both absentee and affidavit.

District-wide results were not available this morning, however, results are expected to be certified by Dec. 3. More than a dozen people gathered at the county Board of Elections office on River Street in Cortland to count the ballots. While machine technicians Boyd Chamberlin and Mike Colasurdo fed ballots into two voting machines, others worked to monitor the system or sort through ballots.

A Cortland County sheriff’s officer stood guard by the door because the ballots had been impounded at the Brindisi campaign’s request. The room was quiet as people did their jobs.

It was a scene repeated across the eight-county 22nd District, where 1,293 votes separated Tenney and Brindisi following election day polling Nov. 6. Counting could last several days, particularly in the district’s larger counties, Broome and Oneida. Results are expected to be certified by Dec. 3.

The race is one of the last eight races in the House of Representatives to be decided. Democrats have picked up 34 seats and a majority in the 435-member House with a 229-198 majority. Democrats lead in three of the remaining eight races, seven of which have Republican incumbents and one has no incumbent.

Just after 10 a.m. elections commissioners Robert Howe, a Republican, and Tom Brown, a Democrat, had to review a ballot with too many marks on it.

A half-hour later, a scanner on one of the machines jammed and needed to be changed. Machine technicians worked to unplug the scanner, switch it out with a new one and insert the SD cards.

The process follows the impounding the ballots, which was requested by Brindisi, who holds a tight lead over incumbent Tenney for the 22nd Congressional District seat. The locking up of memory sticks and ballots was not just in Cortland County, it happened all across the 22nd Congressional District.

In Cortland County, Brindisi got about 1,600 more votes than Tenney on election night, 8,597 to 6,970. Following the ballot count Wednesday, Brindisi received an additional 612 votes in Cortland County to Tenney’s additional 405 votes.

“It’s not an annual thing,” Howe said Tuesday about the impoundment. “It depends on how close the election is.”

He isn’t sure when the last time an impound happened. On Tuesday morning, a series of filing cabinets had been locked and a strip of tape was used to seal them. Inside was the memory sticks from voting machines and all ballots in Cortland County.

Two Republicans and two Democrats opened the ballots and a Republican and Democrat machine technician would feed them into the machine, Howe said.

The county has received 972 absentee ballots of 1,214 it sent out. Another 159 affidavit ballots have been filed, of which 118 were ruled valid.

There were 17,372 absentee ballots sent out across the district, reports the state Board of Elections.

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.

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