NY-20: Team Tedisco Challenged Kirsten Gillibrand's Ballot

Up in NY-20, much as in Minnesota, the Republican attempts at cherry picking which ballots should count and which should not has gotten pretty out of hand. First they went after those insidious college students. You won't be surprised to learn that in their defense, they're invoking the f-word (via TAP):

The Tedisco campaign is now also challenging ballots of students who come from outside the 20th Congressional District, many of whom attend Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs.

Yesterday, Republicans began objecting systematically to absentee ballots cast by voters who maintain second homes in some of the southern parts of the district, and Saratoga County Democratic Chairman Larry Bulman called late last night to say that several of the student ballots were being challenged on grounds that the students improperly claimed residency within the district.

...

"It's ridiculous-these same students voted with no problem in November," Bulman said. He did not have a specific number of student ballots that were challenged.

James Walsh, an attorney representing Republican Assemblyman Jim Tedisco, said yesterday, "What we're doing is trying to prevent fraud."

So what's their reasoning, one wonders, behind challenging Senator Gillibrand's ballot.

This is getting out of control. Word from Columbia County is that when US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand's absentee ballot came up to be counted, the Tedisco camp objected. No, really. I am not making that up. Why on earth would they object to a legal resident of the district's ballot? A legal resident, not to metion FORMER CONGRESSWOMAN REPRESENTING NY-20 AND CURRENT SITTING SENATOR FROM THE STATE OF NEW YORK?

Their reason given:

This just in from Columbia County: when Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand's absentee ballot came up in the queue, the poll watchers for Jim Tedisco objected to it, saying the senator was in the county on election day and should have voted in person.

Democracy by loophole: it's the Republican way.

It should be noted that this is all happening as Scott Murphy expands his lead to 56 votes.

Update [2009-4-14 17:36:52 by Todd Beeton]:Statement from Senator Gillibrand's office (via e-mail):

“The Republican’s challenge is frivolous and without merit. This is part of their larger attempt to disenfranchise legal Democratic voters and delay the inevitable Democratic victory in the 20th. Every day that the national Republicans waste with their dishonest stalling tactics is another day Upstate New Yorkers are deprived their Member of Congress. Senator Gillibrand looks forward to working with Scott Murphy in Congress to support President Obama plans to turn this economy around and create good paying jobs.”

NYS election law says that an elector must intend to be out of the COUNTY on Election Day when the elector submits the absentee ballot or requests the application.

Senator Gillibrand requested and completed an absentee ballot because she did not expect to be able to vote at her polling location since votes were scheduled in the Senate that day. Furthermore, Republican claims that she was in the county are false. She was not in Columbia County on Election Day.

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NY-20: As Absentee Ballot Count Continues, Murphy Up By 46

Eric Kleefeld has been following the NY-20 results closely and reports that the latest count, a few days into counting domestic absentee ballots, shows Scott Murphy up by 46 votes. Foreign and military absentees have until Monday to arrive and so there will be plenty more counting next week. In the meantime though, it's good to see Team Tedisco living up to the tradition of Republicans behind in close races: just challenge votes you don't like (via TAP).

Washington attorney and former President Reagan White House counsel David Nolan has been acting as a volunteer attorney for the Tedisco campaign, and says though the numbers are currently going in Murphy's favor, the Democrat has not widened the gap enough in the county to pull out a victory in the entire 20th District.

"How I see it, is that Columbia County is make or break," Nolan said Thursday night. "I think we are over the top and have weathered the storm."

Nolan says the republicans have been making most of the challenges over the past two days and the majority have been related to ballots from people who are registered to vote in Columbia County but whose driver's licenses state that they live in New York City.

Challenging perfectly legal votes of folks who live in New York City but vote absentee in NY-20...hmm, why ever would they do that?

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NY-20: Early Count Of Domestic Absentees Looks Good For Murphy

As the domestic absentee ballots begin to be counted in the NY-20 race, The Albany Project reports some good news for Scott Murphy.

Via PolitickerNY:

Murphy campaign spokesman Ryan Rudominer said that after Delaware County finished its count, Murphy had gained 20 votes. Tom Wade, chairman of the Rensselaer County Democratic Party, said that Murphy gained 10 total votes there, with 49 ballots unopened. (These include ballots from overseas citizens and military voters, which cannot be opened until April 13, and some ballots that were found objectionable by campaign staffers and laid aside.)

Virginia Martin, the Democratic elections commissioner in Columbia County, said Murphy gained 40 votes there today. That tally only includes absentee ballots - not emergency or affidavit ballots - and comprised seven election districts.

David Gamache, the Republican elections commissioner in Dutchess County, said Murphy picked up 13 votes there after counting ballots in the towns of Pine Plains, Amenia and Clinton.

It should be noted that on election day, Scott Murphy did win Columbia and Dutchess Counties but he lost Delaware County by 32 votes. This by no means seals any deal for Murphy, as many absentees have yet to be counted, including overseas and military ballots which may not be opened until next week. But this is certainly a good start.

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NY-20: County breakdown of absentee ballots favors Murphy

We've been waiting for 6 days to get a result in NY-20, and we could finally get some answers in the coming days. A court ruled today that absentee ballots could start being counted on Wednesday. (Republicans were arguing that counties should have to wait until all absentee ballots come in next week.)

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NY-20: Not A Good Day For Tedisco

First, came the news that Jim Tedisco would step down as minority leader of the New York State Assembly.

With an eye toward planning his transition to Congress, Assemblyman Jim Tedisco said Thursday he would resign his post of minority leader, effective next week. [...]

"I'll continue to serve and will be in the leadership role until Monday, when there will be a vote for new leadership. Then I'll be working on my transition and serving my Assembly district for the next few weeks," Tedisco said. "Then I believe we'll be off to Congress." [...]

"I loved working for the 110th (Assembly District), and it was a great honor to lead this conference, but now we need to get new leadership so I can focus on this congressional district," Tedisco said.

The article says Tedisco refused to claim victory but clearly he did everything but, conveniently ignoring the real reason for his stepping down:

An unhappy Republican conference is set to take action next week if Tedisco refuses to quit his Assembly leadership post, according to several insurgents who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Ouch.

Now comes the news that a literal tie in the NY-20 race for congress has shifted dramatically in Democrat Scott Murphy's favor, giving Murphy an almost 200 vote lead. As The Albany Project reported earlier today:

I'm hearing from a tipster in Washington County that, due to a reporting error on election night that has now been rectified, Scott Murphy just picked up a net of 198 votes. Says the tipster, the news "took the wind right out" of the Republican observers.

Eric Kleefeld at TPM has confirmed this and writes:

English also confirmed that these numbers are more recent than the state's current figures. The process is still ongoing, with Washington County only about two-thirds of the way done double-checking the numbers from all their precincts, and other counties also still hard at work. We also have not yet seen any absentee ballots counted.

While 200 votes doesn't seem like a lot, in a race that's considered a virtual tie it's actually pretty huge for Murphy as they enter the absentee ballot counting phase next week.

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