Republican George Amedore filed an oath of office for the state Senate on Thursday, despite the fact that Democrat Cecilia Tkaczyk could still emerge victorious in the contested race.
The state Board of Elections has certified Amedore’s 37-vote win in the 46th Senate District, and a trial judge overseeing the counting of affidavit and absentee votes in the race declared the process complete in the middle of December.
But that ruling is being challenged by Tkaczyk’s campaign, which will argue Monday before the Appellate Division of state Supreme Court’s Third Department that hundreds of additional ballots should be counted.
“I have tremendous respect for the appellate process, and look forward to a swift decision,” Amedore said in a news release. “I am eager to get to work on behalf of my constituents so we can keep building on the progress we’ve made in turning New York around.”
Amedore has been serving in the Assembly but sought a seat in the state Senate this past election.
In response to Amedore’s filing, Tkaczyk campaign spokesman Gary Ginsburg said they were confident Monday’s court proceeding would result in hundreds of additional votes being counted.
“When the voters are heard, we’re confident that Cecilia Tkaczyk will be the winner of this contest and will serve as the next senator of the 46th Senate District,” he said.
Under the state Constitution, it is ultimately up to the state Senate to decide whom it chooses to seat in the chamber.
Kathleen O’Keefe, a Democratic election lawyer who was initially involved in Tkaczyk’s legal fight, said Assembly and state Senate leaders traditionally let all court proceedings run their course before seating a member. Because of that history and the fact the Appellate Division is still scheduled to act, she said Amedore’s decision to file an oath of office was “premature.”
The Appellate Division could have intervened on Tkaczyk’s behalf to stop the state Board of Elections from certifying its results in the 46th Senate District, but the court didn’t need to intervene, O’Keefe said, because it will be hearing arguments in this case before the state Senate convenes.
Russ Haven, legislative counsel for the New York Public Interest Research Group, a good government group, said Amedore’s decision raised some interesting questions, but he didn’t feel it had any binding impact.
“It could be the legal equivalent of a nonevent,” Haven said of filing the oath, depending on the ruling of the Appellate Division.
There is no law requiring the seat to be filled during the first day of the session, and previous contested seats have remained vacant for months.