New York State

What’s going on in the Brindisi-Tenney race?

It’s a month after the election and we still don’t know the winner in New York’s 22nd Congressional District.

Rep. Anthony Brindisi speaking to supporters on election night this year.

Rep. Anthony Brindisi speaking to supporters on election night this year. Heather Ainsworth/AP/Shutterstock

Nearly a month after Election Day, almost every race in New York has been determined. Some of those races took an extremely long time, including the election for the 50th Senate District in Central New York, where coronavirus exposure halted ballot counting for two weeks in Onondaga County. Democrat John Mannion announced victory in that contest on Monday.

But there is still one key race still undecided: New York’s 22nd Congressional District in the Mohawk Valley and Southern Tier, one of the only two congressional races still undecided in the entire country. Democratic Rep. Anthony Brindisi and Republican challenger former Rep. Claudia Tenney, who is trying to win back the seat she lost in 2018, are in court trying to determine the winner in this razor-thin election. With the vote totals constantly changing, it can be hard to follow the ups downs. And the ins and outs of the legal cases are dizzying. Here’s an overview of everything you need to know.

Who is leading right now?

According to official results that include early voting, Election Day, absentee, military and affidavit ballots submitted by election officials from each of the eight counties that make up the district to the state Supreme Court in Oswego County, Tenney leads by 12 votes. Local election officials submitted those totals on Nov. 30, the first time since Election Day that vote totals for the whole district were made public. Before Thanksgiving, Brindisi claimed he had gained the lead himself, by the same margin of 12 or 13 votes. But days later, Tenney said Brindisi’s apparent lead was the result of a tabulation error in Herkimer County and that she was actually ahead by 13. That revelation came on Nov. 29, several days after all the counties were supposed to have provided final vote totals to the campaigns, drawing criticism from the Brindisi campaign for the fact that officials corrected the error without public notice. Tenney was ahead by over 28,000 votes after Election Day, but as the nearly 60,000 absentee ballots were counted, her lead dwindled to just a few hundred votes. Updated vote totals brought the difference to where it unofficially stands today. 

So does that mean that Tenney is the winner?

No, and not just because the judge has not allowed the counties to certify their results yet, after irregularities with disputed ballots arose in court in late November. First, officials in Chenango County found 55 uncounted ballots a day after submitting their final count to state Supreme Court Justice Scott DelConte. Of those, 11 were from people not registered to vote, while the other 44 could potentially swing the election. Those votes remain unopened, awaiting guidance from DelConte on how to proceed with the ballots, which are affidavit ballots from the early voting period. Voters can cast an affidavit ballot, sometimes called a provisional ballot in other states, if their information is missing from the rolls, and it is later determined whether their vote should be counted depending on whether they are an eligible and registered voter. Aside from those uncounted ballots, for which Chenango officials could not provide an explanation as to how they were missed, DelConte must still rule on some 2,500 disputed absentee and affidavit ballots. And this is before a recount that the judge could potentially order if the final margin of victory is small enough. Although there is still no declared winner, Tenney attended freshman orientation for new members of Congress, just as Brindisi did in 2018 before that race had been decided.

Why is this playing out in court?

Before the counting of paper ballots even began, this race was fated to be decided in court. Tenney filed a lawsuit on Nov. 4 asking a judge to impound the paper ballots in the race, a fairly common move in tight races. Brindisi did the same thing in 2018 when he first ran against then-Rep. Tenney in a closely watched and contentious race, although he eventually won by over 4,000 votes. This year promises to be much tighter. And it’s already dragging out longer, as Tenney conceded on Nov. 28, 2018 while a final decision this year is still days away at the earliest. DelConte ruled on Nov. 10 that counties could begin counting votes, laying out procedures on counting undisputed ballots and requiring election officials to copy any ballots to which either campaign objects for judicial review. Some counties began that day, while others began several days later. After the absentee ballot counting process, Tenney’s lead shrunk to about 100 votes by Nov. 20, according to both campaigns, even closer than the 300-vote margin based on publicly available unofficial vote counts. Before the final vote count was submitted on Nov. 30, this process happened outside the public eye, with several counties declining to provide updated vote totals until they had completely finished counting.

How many disputed ballots are there now?

There are about 2,500 ballots that DelConte must rule on, with the most attention on the at least 809 absentee or affidavit ballots contested by the Tenney and Brindisi campaigns, according to the Syracuse Post-Standard. Absentee ballots challenged by a campaign were counted initially, while affidavit ballots disputed by a campaign were not. This means votes tallies could ultimately either increase or decrease. Also included are more than 1,600 affidavit ballots rejected by county election officials without objection by the campaigns and not included in the final vote total submitted to the court. DelConte must also decide what to do about the 55 unopened affidavit ballots recently discovered in Chenango County. This comes after further confusion over 39 absentee ballots from Oneida County that arose during court proceedings before Thanksgiving, when DelConte began reviewing disputed ballots submitted to him. Election officials marked the paper ballots with sticky notes to explain how they were handled, why they were disputed and if they had been counted. This was in apparent violation of state law, which said that such information must be written on the back of ballots. By the time they made it to the courtroom, several sticky notes were missing and Oneida election officials could not say which ballots they counted or why they were contested. Additional sticky-note confusion caused further delays.

What comes next?

Although DelConte had originally asked the two campaigns to submit their written arguments over how to handle the disputed and rejected paper ballots that could determine this election by Nov. 30, he extended that deadline to the afternoon of Dec. 2. He set the next public hearing date for Dec. 7. And so the saga continues.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.