We’re a month out from election day and there are two undecided House races left in the country. One of them, as I pointed out yesterday, has been certified with the GOP candidate winning by 6 votes. The Democrat in that race has announced she will appeal directly to the U.S. House of Representatives which can choose to investigate and review the outcome and ultimately decide who will get the seat.

The other undecided race is NY-22 where final tallies from all counties show GOP candidate Claudia Tenney with a 12-vote lead over incumbent Democratic Rep. Anthony Brindisi. However, this race is currently involved in a legal battle with both sides arguing their case before Justice Scott J. DelConte of the New York State Supreme Court.

Here’s where the race stands. First, a problem cropped up last week regarding 39 absentee ballots cast in Oneida County. A county election commissioner told Justice DelConte that sticky notes which had originally been placed on the ballots had fallen off. As a result, officials don’t know if those ballots were already counted or not. This has become known as “StickyGate.” Yes, really.

The commissioners said they intended to put a sticky note on each of the 39 ballots that outlined whether a ballot was counted, the basis of a candidate’s challenge and which candidate challenged it.

But by the time an envelope arrived at DelConte’s courtroom, at least eight ballots had no sticky note…

Both commissioners said they believed each ballot had a sticky note on it and had no clue as to how they could have fallen off the ballots or what could have gone wrong in the process.

“We have a serious problem on our hands,” DelConte said.

DelConte noted that one ballot had two stickies, both pink. Another ballot appeared to have the wrong sticky.

It’s worth noting that Claudia Tenney won Oneida County by 11 points so there’s no reason to think these votes would necessarily cut into her lead. In any case, the resolution of these ballots has become a major bone of contention.

Then on Tuesday, a lawyer for Chenago county announced that election officials had just found 55 ballots which had been misplaced and never counted. Of those 55, 11 were from people who were not registered to vote. The other 44 ballots, which have not been opened yet, could potentially still be counted.

As with the StickyGate ballots it’s worth noting that Tenney won Chenago County by 12 points. And the NY Times reported yesterday that most of the ballots appear to have come from Republicans: “Of the remaining 44 ballots, more were cast by Republicans, which should favor Ms. Tenney, who holds the 12-vote lead.” So it’s likely that counting these ballots would add to Tenney’s margin of victory.

But Tenney’s attorneys are arguing that Justice DelConte should allow the counties to certify the votes as it stands, which would make her the winner by 12 votes. Brindisi’s lawyers are asking that the Stickygate votes be sorted out by hand and that the Chenago county ballots also be counted.

A blow-by-blow breakdown of the legal fight is being tweeted out by a local reporter named Josh Rosenblatt who is reading all of the court filings so the rest of us don’t have to. Here’s his thread describing the six separate filings made yesterday.

 

More filings are expected today by 4 pm, so the battle over StickyGate and the Chenago ballots will likely continue.

It really looks to me as if sorting out both of these problems would help Tenney’s margin of victory but I guess it makes sense for her camp to ask to certify the narrow win they have rather than start down the road of counting disputed ballots. Once they start there’s really no telling what will happen next. Another county, perhaps one more favorable to Democratic Rep. Brindisi, could suddenly announce they have found a stack of uncounted ballots as well. Given how carelessly ballots appear to have been handled in this district, I don’t think it would surprise anyone at this point.

But there is another risk here. As mentioned above, the Democrat who lost the Iowa-2 race is now appealing that loss directly to the House of Representatives. If Justice DelConte allows the vote to be certified without sorting out these other problems, Rep. Brindisi could also appeal to the House and claim that he has grounds to do so because of StickyGate and the Chenago ballots weren’t resolved.

Again, that hasn’t happened yet, but with the ice being broken in Iowa it could happen in New York as well. Turning this race over to Nancy Pelosi and friends could be a lot worse than leaving it in the hands of Justice DelConte.