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Appeals court orders additional ballots counted in disputed state Senate race (with link to decision)

January 9, 2013
Updated 11:06 p.m.
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— There is new life for Democrat Cecilia Tkaczyk’s state Senate campaign after a mid-level appeals court ruled 99 more ballots need to be opened in the contested 46th District.

Former Republican Assemblyman George Amedore currently leads that race by 37 votes, but Democrats believe the makeup of the remaining votes will swing the race to Tkaczyk.

“The universe to be counted should be very Democratic,” said Schenectady County Board of Elections Democratic Commissioner Brian Quail.

Amedore-Tkaczyk decision

For a copy of the decision by the Appellate Division of state Supreme Court, click here.

The Third Department of the Appellate Division of state Supreme Court was asked by Tkaczyk’s campaign to count more than 300 absentee, affidavit and special ballots that had been invalidated by acting state Supreme Court Judge Guy Tomlinson. The appeals court ruled Wednesday that about 200 invalidated ballots should not be counted, but 53 ballots from election workers in Ulster County and 46 additional paper ballots should be.

Among the 53 ballots from election workers, 39 were cast by Democratic workers and 14 by Republican workers.

A vast majority of the additional paper ballots that will be counted were contested by Amedore’s legal team. Most of the votes came from Ulster County, except for one from Albany County and eight in Greene County.

Tkaczyk’s campaign was optimistic about its chances, considering the makeup of the remaining ballots that will be counted.

“We are pleased that the judges of the Appellate Division agree with the very basic principle that ministerial errors should not invalidate New Yorkers’ rights to have their voices heard,” said a Tkaczyk campaign statement. “Though many of the ballots were ruled valid, there are still New Yorkers who participated in this election who have not had their votes counted.”

“We respect the judicial process and look forward to a speedy resolution to ensure that the residents of the 46th Senate District have their elected representative seated in the state Senate,” the campaign added.

Immediately after the ruling Amedore spokesman Kris Thompson said, “We are reviewing the court decision and will have a response at the appropriate time.”

Because the appeals court was unanimous in its ruling, it can only be overturned if the state Court of Appeals chooses to take the case.

It is not clear when the counting of the remaining ballots will begin or where it will take place.

Observers expect the remaining ballots will be counted in Fonda, where Tomlinson oversaw the trial phase of the process, and it will start by Friday.

Legal objections to the ballots, like stray marks, could be raised once officials begin opening the remaining ballots.

The balance of the state Senate was initially expected to hinge on this race, but Senate Republicans and a handful of renegade Democrats agreed to a power-sharing deal on Wednesday.

 
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