46th District lesson: Fix election law
Was it just a coincidence that roughly three-quarters of the final 99 votes counted in the 46th Senate District race last week went to Democrat Cecilia Tkaczyk, giving her a 19-vote victory over Republican George Amedore instead of a 37-vote loss? It’s possible, but pretty unlikely given that nearly all of the 99 ballots had been contested by Amedore’s side, having been cast in Tkaczyk strongholds.
In the true, win-at-all-costs tradition of American politics, Amedore’s people had fought since Election Night to keep those and hundreds of other absentee and affidavit ballots from being counted. Tkaczyk’s people had done at least some of the same, challenging the legitimacy of absentee and affidavit ballots in Amedore’s strongholds — where they presumed the uncounted votes would break for him.
In the end, probably because her areas of support were better defined and more lopsided than his (and because the Court of Appeals refused to reconsider a lower court ruling that disqualified some 200 ballots), the race hinged on a mere 99 — the overwhelming majority of which had been cast in Ulster County and challenged by Amedore’s side.
That so many of them went to Tkaczyk speaks volumes about the likely motivation behind the challenges — and of the need for some changes in state election law.
No one should be allowed to disenfranchise an eligible voter for casting a ballot in good faith that has some minor technical flaw — as long as there is no evidence of fraud. (And there were none in this race.) As we said in editorials on Nov. 29 and Dec. 30, elections need to be decided by voters, not lawyers and judges.