There’s a Leader in the NY-22 Race, But No Winner
The last undecided congressional district race in America still doesn't have an official winner.
Following a nearly three-month tumultuous canvassing process, Claudia Tenney now has a 122-vote lead over Anthony Brindisi for the NY-22 seat, but it's not over. A decision was handed down on Friday by New York Supreme Court Justice Scott Delconte, deciding to allow the additional votes from Oneida County, but, Brindisi's campaign is challenging that decision. The appeal could take several weeks, which could leave the 22nd Congressional District un-represented for months.
On Monday, Justice DelConte will resume proceedings and Herkimer and Oneida Counties will be back in court in an effort to certify the results.
The race for NY-22 was one of the closest in the country with only 29 votes separating the two candidates for much of the counting process. A counting process that was littered with errors and "found ballots" - especially in Oneida County, where DelConte made his displeasure clear.
"The Oneida County Board of Elections failed to comply with election law and review its records," he said.
At one point, problems were caused when sticky notes that the OCBOE used to differentiate counted ballots, fell off - preventing them from being able to come up with an accurate count. Another debacle ensued when Herkimer County found a box of uncounted ballots that had been misplaced.
The most egregious dilemma was the discovery that more than 2,400 voter registration applications were never processed, and many of those voters were turned away on election day. Testimony by an Oneida County BOE employee revealed that they just ran out of time. Some of those people who were deemed unregistered, chose to cast a provisional ballot. Others may have left without voting or might not have even shown up to vote at all. Justice DelConte expressed the fact that because the Oneida BOE didn't follow election law, we'll never know.
“Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait,” DelConte said, clearly agitated as reported by Syracuse.com. “Is that really the point you’re making? They were too busy? Too busy? To register 2,400 people who wanted to participate in this election? That’s your client’s position?”
Both Brindisi and Tenney reside in Oneida County, and Herkimer County is considered a part of the Utica-Rome metro.
Due to the delay in declaring a winner, the 22nd Congressional District has gone un-represented since the 117th Congress was gaveled into session on January 3rd. Since then the seat has been absent for a great deal of history, including thousands of angry Trump supporters storming the Capitol building on January 6th, and for a second unprecedented time, the House of Representatives voting to impeach President Donald Trump.
Despite charges of wrongdoing by Republicans nationwide, DelConte has stressed the fact that there was absolutely no evidence of corruption in the district, which includes the rumor that hundreds of "dead people" voted in the election. That rumor was debunked, as election officials revealed there were two absentee ballots that were mailed and ultimately received that were disqualified because the voters were deceased on Election Day. Officials say those two voters passed away after they innocently mailed in their ballots. Under election law, a person must be alive on Election Day for a vote to be counted as a "legal" vote. It's not known which candidate those two people voted for.
Tenney was first elected to the House of Representatives in 2016, when after one term, she was defeated by Brindisi by nearly 4,500 votes. She announced her bid for a rematch in October of 2019.
No matter what the final result is in this race, don't expect this rivalry to end anytime soon. Last month, Brindisi said he will run for the seat in 2022, whether or not he wins re-election. Meanwhile, depending on Census totals, there's a good chance that through redistricting, the 22nd will look much different on Election Day, 2022.