Tight NY congressional race casts glaring light on the flaws of mail-in voting

Just in case you thought that all of the elections aside from the Georgia runoffs were behind us, well… they’re not. The counting is still going on in some of the congressional races and one of the tightest ones is in New York’s 22nd district. There, Democratic incumbent Anthony Brindisis is locked in a recount with Republican Claudia Tenney, who previously held the seat before him. The race gap between the two has come down to the point where Tenney is leading by 106 votes and the only ballots left to possibly be considered are the ones that were “set aside” during the initial count due to irregularities. Tenney leads Brindisi by the thinnest of margins, but he could still come back and retain his seat if a lot of these ballots are allowed.

The problem comes with the way that final determination is being made and irregularities in the way some of the counties originally recorded the votes. Oswego County Supreme Court Justice Scott DelConte has taken it upon himself to personally examine each of the remaining ballots and determine if they should be entered into the count. Even leaving aside the question of how even-handed the judge will be, the record-keeping in some of the counties is so bad that they don’t know how many of the ballots may have already been tallied once. (Washington Examiner)

“We have a serious problem on our hands,” said Oswego County Supreme Court Justice Scott DelConte, who is ruling which ballots to admit or reject in the tight race between Republican former Rep. Claudia Tenney and current Democratic Rep. Anthony Brindisi.

Yes, he does have a serious problem, one entirely predictable when mail-in voting is prevalent.

Tenney was first elected to the seat from New York’s 22nd Congressional District, upstate, in 2016, but Brindisi ousted her in 2018 by a margin of less than 2%. After the initial, full count in this year’s rematch finally was completed, Tenney led by a mere 106 votes — but several thousand absentee ballots remained that had been disputed by one side or the other, many of them having been rejected as invalid by the bipartisan election board. DelConte ruled on Nov. 20 that he should directly examine each of the disputed ballots, and he began doing so on Monday.

The election officials in Oneida County “can’t say for sure” whether or not some of the ballots that were set aside had been counted the first time anyway. In other words, if the judge rejects a ballot, they don’t know if they should subtract one vote from the person it was cast for or if the number should stay the same. The opposite applies if he finds any ballots he rules should be included.

Things get worse from there. The state’s absentee ballot request portal was “unsecured” during the registration window. Anyone who knew the name and date of birth of someone who lives in the county could request a ballot. They were also able to edit the address of record for the voter and have the ballot mailed literally almost anywhere. There would be no way for election officials to know if someone sent in such a fraudulent request and submitted a ballot unless the actual voter showed up in person to vote and their mail-in ballot was then invalidated. Do you think that couldn’t happen? Guess again. In Madison County they recorded 54 people who showed up to vote on election day who already had mail-in ballots recorded in their names.

Oh, and there’s one more little detail to note. Despite CNN repeatedly assuring us that this doesn’t happen, election officials in the county confirmed that ballots were received from three dead people. And those are just the ones they managed to catch.

I don’t know how the judge expects either party to accept the process currently being used if they wind up losing. As I said, it’s bad enough that we have to rely on the judge’s sole discretion to determine which of the spoiled ballots are “good enough” to be included in the count without leaning in one direction or the other. But the election officials can’t even assure him whether some or all of those votes were or weren’t counted. In a race this tight, that sloppiness could throw the race off in either direction. Both parties should be appealing the judge’s decision immediately, in my opinion. Too many questions hang over those spoiled ballots and they should all be discounted. And even then we won’t know how close the current (and hopefully final) count will be to the truth.