By Jim EllisJan. 11, 2021 — The vacant NY-22 electoral count continues to drag on with an end possibly coming soon … at least until the post-election lawsuits begin. The judge still reviewing the initial voting results, Oswego County Supreme Court of the 5th Judicial District of New York Justice Scott DelConte, is personally reviewing all of the contested ballots that at one time totaled approximately 2,100.
Former Rep. Claudia Tenney (R), originally elected in 2016 and who Anthony Brindisi (D-Utica) unseated in 2018, indicated that the latest count, which election officials provided to the candidates, shows her holding a 27-vote districtwide edge. Originally, Tenney led by 12 votes, then, a later tabulation allowed Brindisi to turn the tables to post a 14 vote lead; now Tenney appears to have re-captured the slight advantage, this time by a whopping 27 votes.
The former congresswoman was quoted in a media statement saying, “now that every undisputed ballot has been counted twice, we are still in the lead.” At issue, however, are between 400-500 contested ballots recently delivered to the Justice from Oneida County, an entity that Tenney carried.
Of the district’s eight counties, six of them have finally completed their tabulation after correcting the errors in their ballot challenge procedure per the judge’s instructions. Only small Tioga County, approximately 5,700 votes, had no issues after the initial count. The other seven counties, Justice DelConte concluded, had not complied with New York election law in processing and reporting their challenged ballots; hence, the presiding judge returned the affected ballots to the county offices with orders to correctly process and account for the undetermined votes.
The two remaining outstanding counties in relation to their challenged ballots, Broome and Oneida, are the district’s largest local entities. Together all of Oneida County and the 22nd District portion of Broome, which contains almost the entire latter county’s resident number, account for 60.4 percent of the district’s population. Tenney carried Oneida, with a 50.1 – 48.5 percent vote spread. Brindisi, the 116th Congress incumbent, placed first in Broome County, 56.5 – 40.8 percent. All but the challenged ballots are accounted for, however, and Tenney still maintains the slightest of district leads.
A total of 100,618 votes were cast in Oneida County and 89,775 in Broome. Districtwide, not counting the challenged votes, the district vote total exceeds 311,000 ballots.
Regardless of how this final 2020 House election is resolved, the ultimate margin will be extremely close, and the loser will likely file suit to appeal Justice DelConte’s eventual ballot rulings. Therefore, we might have a declared winner within the next week, but it is also probable that the post-election fight over these final contested votes will continue in another legal venue.
With Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-IA) being provisionally seated in the House after her certified six-vote win until the House Administration Committee makes a final determination over 22 contested ballots that could change the outcome, the precedent has been set for similar treatment regarding the eventual declared NY-22 victor.
Even if we see a New York winner soon sworn into the House, the body will still be absent several members. Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-LA) has officially informed Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) that he will resign his 2nd District congressional seat on Jan. 15 in order to accept his appointment in the Biden White House.
This, coupled with the shocking and untimely death of Rep-Elect Luke Letlow (R) in Louisiana’s 5th District, means we will see two special elections simultaneously occurring on March 20. If no candidate receives majority support in either race, a runoff between the top two vote-getters will be conducted on April 24. Candidate filing for both Louisiana special elections will conclude on Jan. 22.
Soon to follow with House resignations are Reps. Marcia Fudge (D-OH) and Deb Haaland (D-NM). Upon obtaining Senate confirmation as secretaries of Housing and Urban Development and Interior, respectively, the two will leave the legislative body and two additional special elections will be conducted.