December 6, 2021

Cortland begins recanvass of 22nd District race

The Cortland County Board of Elections office began recanvassing ballots in the ultra-tight 22nd Congressional District race between incumbent Anthony Brindisi (D-Utica) and Republican challenger Claudia Tenney.

Before the recanvass, Tenney led Brindisi by 12 votes among more than 300,000 cast.

“We’re still in the process with the courts and everything, so we’re not saying anything,” said Robert Howe, the county Republican Commissioner Wednesday afternoon.

A state judge ordered county boards of election on Dec. 8 to fix errors made when first counting ballots. The judge also denied Tenney’s request to declare her the winner.

Brindisi and Tenney remain at odds over about 1,500 disputed ballots and several dozen uncounted ballots found by Chenango County.

A string of record keeping problems — particularly over records of candidates objecting to ballots — has led to confusion over vote totals.

State Supreme Court Justice Scott DelConte ordered the boards of election to launch a “complete inspection” to account for every single submitted ballot.

The judge also said boards of election shall count “every single” uncounted ballot.

And the judge has ordered county boards of election to fix all errors concerning disputed ballots and envelopes. He said if errors can’t be fixed, the election boards must count the ballots again and give candidates a chance to observe.

Cortland County accounted for a little more than 5,000 absentee ballots, the majority favoring Brindisi, board statistics show.

Howe said last week that campaign officials from both candidates observed the counting process “and didn’t object to anything we did.”

“To be clear, there is absolutely no evidence or even an allegation before this court of any fraud on the part of the boards or the campaigns,” DelConte wrote.

And the state judge said there’s no evidence that county boards of elections’ failures are to blame on the pandemic, new tweaks to the state’s election laws or any strain on boards capacity and resources.

The judge pointed to counties that failed to alert voters of fixable issues with their ballots, record candidate’s objections to ballots, properly count affidavit ballots and rule on hundreds of ballots that candidates objected to and went uncounted.

“Instead, the problems experienced by the candidates and, consequently, all of the voters across the eight counties in New York’s 22nd Congressional District, were a direct result of ‘the careless or inadvertent’ failure to follow the mandate of statute and case law by the boards of elections,” he wrote.

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Staff Reporter Shenandoah Briere and the Associated Press contributed to this report.