© 2024 WRVO Public Media
NPR News for Central New York
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
New York's 22nd Congressional District includes all of Chenango, Cortland, Madison and Oneida counties and parts of Broome, Herkimer, Tioga and Oswego counties.0000017a-3c50-d913-abfe-bd54a86b0000Incumbent Richard Hanna (R-Barneveld) has announced he will retire. Claudia Tenney (R), New York state assemblywoman; Democrat Kim Myers; and Martin Babinec, a member of the Reform and Upstate Jobs parties will face off in November.It should also be noted that the retiring Hanna has not put his support behind fellow Republican Claudia Tenney.

With challenged ballots in Tenney, Brindisi race, some election officials did not follow NY law

Brindisi/Tenney campaigns

The 22nd Congressional District race between Republican Claudia Tenney and Democratic incumbent Anthony Brindisi, is one of the closest in the country. A month after Election Day, there is still no winner, and one might not be determined anytime soon. A judge has to rule on challenges to more than 2,000 absentee and affidavit ballots. At the moment, the race is only separated by 12 votes, with Tenney leading. Besides the razor thin margin, the absentee ballot counting process has been plagued by some errors and inefficiencies made by election officials.

Electoral administration can be difficult and tedious, particularly during a pandemic, according to Luke Perry, a political science professor at Utica College. But he said, at minimum, election officials need to follow the law, which in some cases, hasn’t happened. When a ballot is challenged by a campaign or election official, according to state law, the challenge needs to be noted on the ballot, in ink.

“Unfortunately, several counties didn’t adhere to that practice, and it’s not entirely clear why that was,” Perry said.

In Oneida County, sticky notes were used to identify challenged ballots, and then disappeared. Commissioners didn’t know whether those ballots were included in the county’s final count. Madison County used a spreadsheet. There was a tabulation error in Herkimer County. More ballots were found in Chenango County. It all adds to the confusion.

“There needs to be and should be a reevaluation of what went wrong here and a systematic effort to make sure that doesn’t happen again,” Perry said.

Perry pointed out that these abnormalities in ballots are only in the hundreds, in a race where more than 300,000 votes were cast.

What the election results show so far, he said, is that while Tenney has improved since her run in 2018, she underperformed again among Republicans, who have a 30,000 voter advantage over Democrats in the district. However, Tenney is also beating Brindisi in Oneida County, their home county and the largest in the district, which Brindisi won, two years prior.

“Oneida County knows Brindisi the best, so if he is to lose, having Tenney flip Oneida County is the dagger to the heart,” Perry said.

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.