October 23, 2021

Absentee ballot count begins

Tenney currently leads Brindisi in 22nd Congressional District race

Colin Spencer/staff reporter

Absentee ballots are counted Tuesday inside the Cortland County Board of Elections building in Cortland.

The counting of absentee ballots for the 22nd Congressional District race was delayed several hours Tuesday following a lawsuit on behalf of Claudia Tenney’s campaign, said Thomas Brown, the Democratic commissioner for the Cortland County Board of Elections.

Tenney’s campaign filed a lawsuit in state Supreme Court of Oswego County against Democratic incumbent Rep. Anthony Brindisi, (D-Utica), Libertarian candidate Keith Price Jr., and the Boards of Elections of the counties within the 22nd Congressional District to verify ballots and determine their validity, court filings show.

Judge Scott DelConte ruled the boards of elections should provide lists of who applied for absentee ballot applications and maintain open voter registration records for the candidates.

The counting, which was scheduled to begin 9 a.m, was delayed until around noon Tuesday, Brown said.

Based on Election Day and early voting results, Tenney leads Brindisi 139,883 to 111,461, according to statistics from the state Board of Elections.

There are still more than 50,000 absentee ballots to be counted, according to news media reports.

That includes 5,046 absentee ballots sent out and 4,693 absentee ballots received in Cortland County, the county Board of Elections reported.

Of those, 2,277 were received from enrolled Democrats, 1,334 from Republicans and 809 to unaffiliated voters.

Spokesmen from both campaigns issued responses.

“The judge made clear today that there should be no objected (sic) to ballots included in the final count until it was resolved and that all reasonable requests by the campaigns should be accommodated by the boards of elections,” said Tenney spokes-man Sean Kennedy. “The counting begins and we are confident Claudia will emerge the clear winner shortly.”

“New York voters deserve to have their voices heard,” Brindisi spokesman Luke Jackson said. “The Brindisi campaign welcomes this court ruling, firmly believes every legal ballot should be counted, and will fight to make sure voters are not silenced. Elections aren’t won or lost on Twitter or in the courtroom, they’re settled at the ballot box. We look forward to the count of every legal ballot.”

Brown said that counting is done by a machine that is designed to count about 4,000 votes an hour. The more labor-intensive part is the opening of envelope

Compared to other presidential elections, he said, “We’ve never had this many” absentee ballots before, mostly due to the allowed excuse of COVID enabling more people to vote by absentee ballot.

He was unsure of how long counting would take.

Republican Commissioner Robert Howe said that there have been delays before for impoundments of ballots, but he hasn’t experienced something like this before.

“This is unusual,” he said.

The experience of the primaries, the first experience for increased absentee ballot use in the state this year, helped as a practice for November’s general election, Brown said, on how to effectively count votes and maintain clean facilities for those voting in-person.

Additionally, more people, about 14, were brought on to help count votes, more than double the amount from the primaries, he said.