The state Republican Committee obtained a court order today to impound all paper ballots cast in the hotly contested 20th Congressional District special election.
Democrat Scott Murphy, a businessman, faces Republican James Tedisco, minority leader in the state Assembly. They are seeking to fill the seat formerly held by Kirsten Gillibrand, a Democrat.
Judge James Brands of State Supreme Court in Dutchess County issued the order at the request of Joseph Mondello, chairman of the state Republican Committee, and Patricia Killian, chairwoman of the Dutchess County Conservative Committee.
John Ciampoli filed paperwork in Dutchess County Court today. Ciampoli is an Albany attorney who represented opponents who succeeded in knocking Libertarian Eric Sundwall off the congressional ballot.
State Board of Elections spokesman Bob Brehm said the order puts the judge in control of recanvassing the ballots. “When you get an order, the judge takes over the process,” he said.
In a close race, a recount could delay the announcement of a winner for months, Brehm said.
A total of 10,055 paper ballots were issued in the 20th Congressional District and 5,907 returned as of Monday, Brehm said.
Gov. David Paterson selected Gillibrand to replace Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton when Clinton was confirmed as secretary of state.
Meanwhile, voter turnout was considered light earlier in the day with heavier voting expected during after-work hours.