Local Utica, NY Politics: Tenney and Brindisi Sort Out Ballots in Lawsuits

Sorting Out the Ballots

Source Observer-Dispatch Steve HoweObserver-Dispatch

Anthony Brindisi and Claudia Tenney

The final undecided Congressional race in the country was back in court for oral arguments on the fate of unprocessed online voter registration applications from Oneida County on Friday. 

Attorneys for Democrat Anthony Brindisi and Republican Claudia Tenney defended points made in legal briefs filed Thursday in a virtual Oswego County Supreme Court.

The 69 affidavit ballots challenged by the Brindisi campaign were connected to more than 2,400 online voter registration forms submitted by the state’s Oct. 9 deadline but not processed by Election Day. 

Tenney, of New Hartford, leads Brindisi, of Utica, by 29 votes in the race for New York’s 22nd Congressional District. 

State Supreme Court Justice Scott DelConte challenged attorneys for both candidates during the approximately 90-minute hearing Friday afternoon.  

Tenney attorney Paul DerOhannesian argued the court had no legal authority to register anyone to vote, which it would be doing if it counted any of the ballots challenged by Brindisi related to voter registration status.

DerOhannesian also argued a county board of elections has discretion on how long it takes to process voter registration forms and complications, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and executive orders from the state, slowed down the processing of applications. 

Oneida County election officials previously testified 640 online voter registration applications from the state Department of Motor Vehicles were processed by Election Day, as well as all paper voter registration applications. 

DerOhannesian said to be eligible to vote in an election, the voter must be registered by Election Day. He repeated an argument from the legal brief that those registering to vote online could check on their application by calling the board of elections or by challenging their registration status to a judge on standby on Election Day. 

Brindisi attorney Bruce Spiva faced questions from DelConte on why only 69 affidavit ballots of voters who filled out an online voter registration application were challenged. Spiva said both campaigns had the ability to challenge the validity of affidavit ballots, but not everyone who applied but was not registered to vote by Oneida County submitted an affidavit ballot.  

More:NY22: Tenney, Brindisi campaigns argue unprocessed voter registration applications

More:NY22: Where the Brindisi vs. Tenney congressional race stands

Spiva admitted most of the ballots were cast by voters attempting to register as Democrats, though some were Republicans and independent voters. DelConte said he observed all of the challenged absentee ballots were cast by younger voters. 

Spiva and DerOhannesian challenged each other’s legal arguments, specifically whether or not previous cases mirrored the current situation and the extent of the court’s power to rule on a voter’s registration status. 

Brindisi’s legal team gathered the voter registration forms for the 69 voters in question, showing they did apply to vote through the DMV website and did so ahead of the Oct. 9 deadline. 

DelConte said he would rule on the affidavit ballots connected to the online voter registration applications early next week. Final legal briefs and oral arguments are scheduled for Jan. 20 and Jan. 22, respectively. 

Steve Howe is the city reporter for the Observer-Dispatch. For unlimited access to his stories, please subscribe or activate your digital account today. Email Steve Howe at showe@gannett.com.RecommendedBrindisi Tenney NY22: 2,400 voter registration forms not processedNEWSMore Local StoriesUnauthorized link leads to cancelled COVID-19 vaccination appointmentsNEWSOneida County expects to run out of vaccine dosesNEWSProsecutors: Death of Quaheim Holland led to more violence, shootingsNEWSU.S. Supreme Court tosses conviction in NFL star Will Smith’s deathNEWSMore Local StoriesMansion built on the east side of Genesee StreetNEWSUtica state lawmakers react to Gov. Cuomo’s State of the State addressNEWSRome NY Walmart reopens after closing for ‘cleaning, sanitizing’NEWSMadison, NY Central School surveys families on reopening dateNEWSCOVID-19: 3 deaths, 313 COVID-19 cases in Oneida CountyNEWSHerkimer BOCES CTE moving to remote instruction after COVID casesNEWSMore Local StoriesHolland Patent NY schools delay return to hybrid learningNEWSCOVID: Rome hospital vaccinates 307 people, including first respondersNEWSAmerica’s Greatest Heart Run & Walk 2021 logo revealedNEWSDeath notices for Jan. 16, 2021NEWSMore Local StoriesUtica man Naythen Aubain pleads guilty to killing grandmother, landlordNEWS3 Utica NY men face felony weapon charges after vehicle stopNEWS1958 murder at Madison County gas station remains unsolvedNEWSRome man, Utica man face felony weapon charges after traffic stopNEWSMore StoriesBrindisi Tenney NY22: 2,400 voter registration forms not processedUnauthorized link leads to cancelled COVID-19 vaccination appointmentsProsecutors: Death of Quaheim Holland led to more violence, shootings