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Supreme Court justice: 'Serious problem' with Oneida County absentees in 22nd district race

Court proceedings begin to review challenged ballots in the 22nd Congressional District.

Posted: Nov 23, 2020 5:13 PM
Updated: Nov 23, 2020 5:22 PM

OSWEGO, N.Y. – A state Supreme Court justice in Oswego County was set to review disputed absentee ballots in all eight counties of the 22nd Congressional District Monday, but was only able to review some after finding major issues in Oneida and Madison counties.

As of Monday, Republican Claudia Tenney was leading incumbent Democratic Congressman Anthony Brindisi by about 200 votes. It is not yet clear how many total votes are in question in court, but at least 176 were presented for review on Monday.

Supreme Court Justice Scott DelConte spent more than three hours reviewing just 39 ballots in Oneida County, after calling the county BOE procedures into question.

Oneida County BOE commissioners, Rose Grimaldi and Carolann Cardone, claim sticky notes were placed on each disputed absentee ballot, explaining why it was challenged. However, upon DelConte’s review, sticky notes were missing from some ballots, while one was also found with two notes stuck to it.

When the judge asked how the commissioners could tell if the challenged ballots were already counted in the election totals, both said there was no way to tell. DelConte said this is a “serious problem” and moved on without making a ruling for Oneida County, according to WBNG in Binghamton.

Ballot objections from Herkimer and Oswego counties were also reviewed, but the next delay came when the judge started to take a look at the 131 ballots from Madison County.

The Madison County Board of Elections created a spreadsheet listing challenged ballots and reasons for the objections. However, DelConte said each ballot was not marked separately, according to WBNG. 

According to state law, there is a clear way to mark ballots with objections. The law reads:

“If objection be made to the counting of any ballot or as to any section of any such ballot, the board of inspectors shall forthwith and before canvassing any other ballot or section thereof, rule upon the objection. If the objection be continued after this ruling, the chair or an inspector under the scrutiny of an inspector of the opposite party shall write in ink upon the back of the ballot a memorandum of the ruling and objection. The memorandum of the ruling shall be in the words 'Counted void,' or 'Counted blank,' or 'Counted for (naming the candidate or candidates or the presidential ticket),' or, in the case of a ballot proposal "Counted for Proposal No.......," or 'Counted against Proposal No........', as the case may be. The memorandum of the objection shall be in the words 'Objected to,' followed by a brief statement of the nature of the objection, the name and address of the challenger and the signature of the chair or inspector.”

DelConte also ruled that ballots with outside markings that also have a clear marking within one candidate’s box, will be considered valid.

The proceedings are scheduled to resume tomorrow.

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