Saturday, December 29, 2012
Democrat Cecilia Tkaczyk has appealed “hyper-technical mistakes” that invalidated more than 300 paper ballots cast in the race for the state’s 46th Senate District seat, her attorney said on Friday.
Republican candidate George Amedore was expected to file a response to his opponent’s appeal by 4 p.m. Friday, but Amedore’s spokesman could not be reached for confirmation of that.
Acting state Supreme Court Justice Guy Tomlinson on Dec. 18 certified Amedore the winner of the 46th Senate District race by a margin of just 37 votes, 63,141 to 63,104. The ruling was made public the following day, at which point Tkaczyk’s campaign indicated she would file an appeal. That appeal was filed Wednesday with the state Supreme Court Appellate Division, Third Department.
The case is scheduled to be heard Jan. 7, six days after state lawmakers are to begin their new term.
“The vast majority of the unopened or contested ballots were ruled invalid by Supreme Court based upon hyper-technical mistakes or omission of the voters, inspectors and commissioners or based upon misleading, incomplete or erroneous instructions of the local boards of elections given to the voters,” Tkaczyk’s attorney, James Long, wrote in the appeal. “Not one scintilla of evidence was proffered by the objector, George A. Amedore Jr., of any fraud. Rather, the disenfranchisement of hundreds of voters was based upon inconsequential deviations from the letter of the law.”
Long said that includes elections commissioners who gave their poll inspectors absentee ballots at a training session three weeks before the general election and recommended the inspectors complete and turn in the ballots immediately. He said there were 54 objections to ballots from election inspectors in Ulster County, which Tkaczyk carried by a wide margin.
Ulster County Republican Elections Commissioner Thomas Turco said this is the first time ballots from poll workers have been challenged. He said he has been a commissioner for 16 years and, in that time, ballots always have been given to poll workers at their training sessions if they are available.
The issue is a law that states absentee ballots cannot be returned more than two weeks before the election, Turco said. He said some training sessions occur more than two weeks before an election and poll workers might choose at those sessions to fill out and return their ballots.
The 54 challenged ballots represent only a portion of the number of poll workers used in the election, Turco said. He said the majority of inspectors work at their own poll sites and that it is only inspectors who work elsewhere that need to file absentee ballots.
“We’ve never had an issue with this before,” Turco said.
Among the other contested ballots were 216 to which Amedore objected on the grounds the affidavits were incomplete or inaccurate, Long said.
He said 13 ballots were challenged over questions of the voters’ residency and 15 were challenged because voters were given federal absentee ballot applications rather than regular ones.
The 46th Senate District comprises parts of Ulster, Albany and Schenectady counties and all of Greene and Montgomery counties.
Amedore, currently a state assemblyman, lives in Rotterdam. Tkaczyk, a school board vice president, lives in Duanesburg.