Tag Archives: New York

The Next Step in NY-22

New York’s Congressional Districts

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 3, 2021 — Late yesterday, by judicial order, the seven affected counties in New York’s 22nd Congressional District finalized and completed the verification process of their final vote totals, but that doesn’t end the process.

The seven entities with the challenged ballots and Tioga County’s long ago completed results will then be sent to the State Board of Elections for final certification. The process, however, could conceivably endure further delays in the capital city of Albany.

First, 116th Congress incumbent Anthony Brindisi (D-Utica), who now will assuredly finish behind former US Rep. Claudia Tenney (R) in the final 2020 election count, has already filed an appeal to State Supreme Court of Oswego County Justice Scott DelConte’s ruling, asking for a hand recount of all ballots.

Second, as part of the 23-page judicial ruling directing the counties as to which votes must be added and subtracted from their counts because of eligibility rules, Justice DelConte indicated that his ruling is somewhat limited.

The Justice said he does not have the power either to order a new election or allow the 2,418 people who registered to vote before the Oneida County deadline but were denied ballots because election officials did not process their forms to vote post-election. Before the State Board of Elections, however, the final action could result in a different conclusion.

The SBoE is comprised of two appointed Democrats and a pair of Republicans. The panel is co-chaired by Democratic appointee Douglas Kellner and Republican choice Peter Kosinski. Nominees for the two co-chair positions are put forth to the governor from the partisan legislative leaders from both lawmaking chambers.

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NY-22 Vote on Brink of Certification

By Jim Ellis

Former New York Rep. Claudia Tenney (R)

Feb. 2, 2021 — After being suspended in political limbo for three months after Upstate New York voters cast their ballots, it appears that former Rep. Claudia Tenney (R) is on the threshold of being declared the winner of the disputed NY-22 contest.

State Supreme Court of Oswego County Justice Scott DelConte issued his ruling late Friday after weeks of hearings regarding disputes over more than 1,000 contested ballots and 2,100-plus individuals who registered to vote in a timely manner but whose documentation were not properly processed.

Justice DelConte released a 23-page ruling detailing his findings. As a result, it appears his acceptance or rejection of various ballots and a decision governing the mis-applied voter registrations allow Tenney to increase her lead from 29 votes to 122.

The justice first ordered Tioga County’s election officials, the only entity from the eight-county district that had no issues, to immediately certify their final totals. From the remaining seven counties with outstanding ballots, those election officials were ordered to appear in court Monday to count or remove votes at the Justice’s direction.

Once completed, the DelConte ruling ordered the counties to then implement a final canvass and certify their results by mid-day today. At this point, the final results from all eight counties will be sent to the State Elections Board in Albany for final certification.

In summary, the original totals found the two candidates, Tenney and 116th Congress incumbent Anthony Brindisi (D-Utica), separated by just 12 votes from the 317,727 ballots cast: 155,492 to 155,480, respectively, and including 6,755 votes for the Libertarian candidate. Through the ballot challenge period, we saw Brindisi moving ahead by 14 votes, and then back to Tenney’s most often reported 29-vote edge. It was only through Friday’s ruling when her advantage expanded to 122.

In all, 1,118 ballots were challenged. A total of 533 of those were withdrawn through agreement between the two campaigns, and after the two camps had resolved challenges to an additional 43 ballots. Three more ballots were “not preserved for judicial review.” Of the 609 challenges the justice considered, 470 were admitted to the count while 139 were rejected and ordered removed.

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More Redistricting Delays

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 29, 2021 — The Census Bureau announced at mid-week yet another postponement in releasing the national apportionment figures, this time until April 30. Reapportionment should have been completed by Dec. 31, but the Bureau previously announced that March 6 would be the new release date due to COVID-related problems. Now, we see further delays.

Reapportionment is the process of creating a new census data algorithm in order to project the number of congressional seats each state will be awarded for the coming decade. It appears that 10-12 seats could change states, with the northeast and Midwest typically losing districts to southern and western states. This time, however, California, for the first time in history, is reversing their trend and appears headed for the losing list.

Once the apportionment numbers are known and the individual data dispersed, the states can begin the redistricting process. The Census Bureau further stated that individual states won’t be receiving their particular data necessary for redistricting until at least July 30. This will clearly set the redistricting cycle back significantly, which could cause major problems for the coming election cycle.

In the past, the Census Bureau has prioritized the states with early primaries to be first to receive their data. This meant that New Jersey and Virginia initially received their new population numbers ahead of the others because they have odd-numbered year state legislative elections. Texas and Illinois were next to receive since they traditionally schedule their regular primaries in March of the election year.

Knowing that the numbers would not be available for them in 2021, New Jersey and Virginia took preparatory action. Garden State officials placed a referendum on the November ballot asking voters for approval to postpone legislative redistricting until 2023. The measure passed.

The Old Dominion leaders decided they would run their 2021 state Delegate elections on the amended 2011 map but could conceivably call elections again for next year once they receive their updated data and can draw district boundaries. Virginia state senators do not stand for election until 2023, so it is unlikely the redistricting delay will affect those campaigns.

The data distribution and processing delay could place most legislatures in a conundrum. Most will be adjourned when the data is received, so special sessions will have to be called in most cases to complete the process prior to the 2022 candidate filing deadlines. This suggests that the states having redistricting commissions might prove to be in better position to complete the task because they won’t have to deal with legislative politics, priorities, or calendars, all of which result in a lengthy process.

Additionally, since almost every map is challenged in court, we could well see a plethora of lawsuits being filed late in the year that keep the redistricting process tied in figurative knots for months.

The states in the most difficult situations will be those gaining and losing congressional representation. Because the number of districts these particular states will have differ from their current allotments, they do not have the option of reverting to the current map once 2021 apportionment becomes final.

In the case of gainers and losers not having completed maps, we may see at-large races for the House. This would be particularly difficult for the losing states because we may see all members in the affected places having to run at-large for seats in their House delegations.

Unofficially, the gaining states appear to be Texas (3 seats), Florida (2), Arizona, Colorado, Montana, North Carolina, and Oregon. The losers may be New York (possibly 2 seats), Alabama, California, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and West Virginia. Reports suggest that the closest developing situation concerns whether Alabama loses a seat or New York drops two.

President Biden’s executive order that mandates non-citizens be counted in the census will certainly affect the final data projections and may be another reason for this latest delay.

The only certainty about 2021 reapportionment and redistricting is the many moving parts in these various states will likely produce surprising political results.

Early House Outlook – Part III

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 22, 2021 — Continuing with our electoral preview for the US House, today we look at 13 states in the country’s northeastern region. Monday, we conclude in the south.


• Connecticut – 5 Seats (5D)

With all of the Nutmeg State’s five congressional districts venturing past the 700,000 resident mark, each of Connecticut’s CDs appear secure after the state lost a seat in 2010 reapportionment. With Democrats holding the redistricting pen, expect only perfunctory changes in the congressional delegation map with each incumbent being awarded a safe seat. All were re-elected in 2021 within a vote percentage range between 56 and 65.


• Illinois – 18 Seats (13D5R)

Democrats have a big advantage in the Illinois delegation and, with the party leaders in control of the redistricting pen, their edge is positioned to expand. Despite the Republicans holding less than half of the number of Democratic seats comprising the delegation, it is one of the Dem’s members who is likely to be paired with another incumbent.

The state has actually lost population (approximately 250,000 residents) when compared with the 2010 census, meaning Illinois will certainly lose one CD with the outside possibility of dropping two. Since the major population loss is coming from the downstate area, the Democrat map drawers will have little trouble taking the seat from the Republicans and can justify such a draw based upon the region losing so many people. This, even though Rep. Cheri Bustos’ (D-Moline) seat has the lowest population figure in the state.

The Chicago area gives the Democrats some redistricting challenges, however. Three of their metro incumbents, Reps. Marie Newman (D-La Grange), Sean Casten (D-Downers Grove), and Lauren Underwood (D-Naperville) scored re-election percentages of 56.4, 52.8, and 50.7 respectively, meaning all three will be lobbying to add more Democrats to their districts. Their lower win percentages are a clue that the metro districts are already stretched to the maximum from a Democratic perspective, so it’s possible such an over-reach could have backfire potential.


• Indiana – 9 Seats (2D7R)

The nine Hoosier State seats also appear secure from a population standpoint, so Indiana looks to be a sure bet to retain all of its nine congressional districts. One seat to watch from a competitive perspective is that of freshman Rep. Victoria Spartz (R-Noblesville), who won an Indianapolis suburban CD in a tight 50-46 percent margin. Democrats will target her in 2022. All of the veteran incumbents seeking re-election broke the 61 percent mark. Freshman Democrat Frank Mrvan (D-Highland/Gary) succeeded retiring Rep. Peter Visclosky (D) with a 57-40 percent victory margin.


• Maine – 2 Seats (2D)

The Pine Tree State again holds two districts with smaller base population figures for the coming decade, one from the north and the other south. Democrats hold both and will control the redistricting pen but with only approximately 30,000 people needing to move from the southern 1st District (Rep. Chellie Pingree-D) to the northern 2nd (Rep. Jared Golden-D), the map will only change marginally. The 2nd CD is the more competitive seat of the two and will again be contested but the state’s Ranked Choice Voting system tends to give the Democrats an added advantage.


• Massachusetts – 9 Seats (9D)

The Bay State, home to one of the Democrats’ most loyal constituencies in the entire country, will retain its nine districts after dropping a seat in the 2010 reapportionment. All nine Democratic incumbents are safe and will continue to be so. The victory percentage range fell between 58-74 percent for the nine current Democratic incumbents, all but one of whom was running for re-election.


• Michigan – 14 Seats (7D7R)

Michigan redistricting will be different in 2021 with the introduction of a voter-passed redistricting commission. The citizen members will be tasked with reducing the 14-member delegation to 13, and Republicans will likely find themselves on the short end. Rep. John Moolenaar’s (R-Midland) 4th CD looks to be the most vulnerable. The districts in the northern part of the state all must gain population, and with Rep. Moolenaar’s seat being surrounded by the rest, his is the most likely to be split in pieces order to feed the others.

Reps. Elissa Slotkin (D-Holly/Lansing) and Haley Stevens (D-Rochester Hills), with respective 2020 win percentages of 50.9 and 50.2, will be in need of more Democrats that may not be forthcoming. Therefore, we could see a more competitive Michigan congressional delegation at least in the early part of the new decade.
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NY-22: Up 12, Down 14, Now +27

By Jim Ellis

Former New York Rep. Claudia Tenney (R) leads by a whopping
27 votes in her bid to return to the House in the NY-22 race.

Jan. 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.

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The Losing Regions – Part II

All the best for a great holiday break. The Political Updates will return on Monday, Jan. 4.

A look at how things might play out in key states in the redistricting tug of wars

By Jim Ellis
Dec. 24, 2020 — Continuing our two-part series of examining reapportionment projections for states expected to lose congressional seats, today we look at an additional four states with CDs on the chopping block: Illinois, New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.

At this point, it appears a total of ten states are in the losing category. Yesterday, we covered Alabama, California, Michigan, and Minnesota. The remaining two, Rhode Island and West Virginia, are moving to at-large and two district status, respectively, meaning their new maps become obvious.

The new apportionment, originally due at the end of this year but delayed due to COVID, could be released sometime in January.


Illinois

Illinois is a sure loser and one of the few states where the overall population is less (over 158,000 people) according the latest available numbers (July 2019) than registered 10 years ago. Therefore, Illinois is in the rare situation of losing congressional representation not because the population failed to keep pace with the rate of growth, but rather due to the entity actually having fewer people.

This leads to speculation that the state could lose two seats because even in such a scenario the per district population number would be under 800,000 individuals. A two-seat loss would still render the state with a lesser per district total population figure than some of the other states losing one.

All current 18 Illinois CDs need to gain population even under a one-seat loss scenario. Making such calculations we see that the new rudimentary per district population figure would be approximately 745,401 individuals, less than the number projected for most states. Typically, states losing congressional districts feature much higher numbers. This adds to the speculation that the state could drop a second CD.

If the loss is only one, as the current projection formula suggests, the southern part of the state would appear to take the hit. This means that Republicans, while holding only five of the state’s current 18 districts, would likely lose a seat. Aside from Rep. Cheri Bustos’ (D-Moline) 17th District anchored in the Quad Cities region, which has the largest population number to gain, over 79,000 people, the remaining seven of the top eight districts needing a population increase come from the Downstate region.

The figures suggest that combining the five central and southern districts of Reps. Mike Bost (R-Murphysboro), Rodney Davis (R-Taylorville), incoming freshman Mary Miller (R), Adam Kinzinger (R-Channahon), and Darin LaHood (R-Peoria) into four districts would be the most likely scenario unless the Bustos district is collapsed. Considering that the Democrats control the redistricting process, it is probable that the former scenario would be the one adopted.


New York

Like Illinois, New York, while having slightly more people than they did in 2010 (just over 75,000 more according to July 2019 estimated figures), could be on the cusp of losing two seats. Of their current 27 districts, 24 must gain population. Only the seats of Reps. Hakeem Jeffries (D-Brooklyn), Gregory Meeks (D-Queens), and Adriano Espaillat (D-Bronx) are in the position of shedding residents. All others need a population influx even to reach the approximated 748,213 figure that appears be present at this point for a 26-District model.

As in Illinois, a two-seat loss would still keep the per district number at well under 800,000, much less than other states that are projected to lose congressional representation.

Also as in Illinois, the non-urban area looks to need the largest population gain (meaning Upstate, in this case), would contain the area most prone to lose a seat. This means, also as in Illinois, that the party in a small minority, the Republicans, is most likely the one on the chopping block.

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NY-22: Judge Rules

By Jim Ellis

Former US Rep. Claudia Tenney (R) leads freshman Rep. Anthony Brindisi (D-Utica) by just 12 votes out of 317,727 tabulated ballots.

Dec. 10, 2020 — The only House race still uncertified or undecided will remain in political limbo for at least a couple of more weeks. Tuesday, in a 20-page ruling, state Supreme Court Justice Scott DelConte returned the contested race back to the counties to properly complete the canvass process in order to ensure that all eligible votes are counted and recorded.

At this point, former US Rep. Claudia Tenney (R) leads freshman Rep. Anthony Brindisi (D-Utica) by just 12 votes of 317,727 tabulated ballots.

At one point, Tenney led the count by 28,422 votes, but that lead all but disappeared when the 60,000-plus mail votes were recorded. At one point, Brindisi took a 13-vote lead, but a discovered mistaken count in Herkimer County changed the outcome to give Tenney her present 12-vote edge.

In New York, the local district court — or superior court as some states label it — is referred to as a Supreme Court. Justice DelConte has assumed jurisdiction for the case and determined that seven of the congressional district’s eight counties did not follow New York election law or procedure as to how county personnel handled many of the contested ballots and those that are seemingly uncounted.

Additionally, the judge denied both Tenney’s motion to certify the current count and Rep. Brindisi’s motion to recount only some of the counties and precincts. Justice DelConte wrote that Tenney’s motion ignored the clear fact that a bevy of ballots remain uncounted and recorded, and Brindisi only wants to adjust the areas that are favorable to him.

Only Tioga County correctly completed the counting and canvass process and is therefore not involved in this post-election adjustment period. Personnel in the other seven counties, however, at least failed to adhere to New York law that requires a written explanation on the invalid ballot itself as to why it was rejected and who made the challenge. Instead, many contested ballots were affixed with post-it notes, many of which have become dislodged and lost.

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