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Ballots ordered opened

Thursday, January 10, 2013 - Updated: 5:51 PM

By HEATHER NELLIS

Recorder News Staff

The Third Judicial Department of the state Supreme Court's Appellate Division on Wednesday ordered 99 additional ballots opened and counted in the 46th Senate District election, threatening Republican George Amedore Jr.'s 37 vote lead over Democrat Cecilia Tkaczyk.

That's roughly one quarter of the 444 ballots that remain unopened in this stage of the race's legal battle, in which further appeals are possible.

The decision on this appeal was filed by Tkaczyk's lawyers after Montgomery County acting Supreme Court Justice Guy P. Tomlinson's three week supervision of affidavit and absentee ballot counting, which resulted in Amedore's certification as the winner by a final margin of 63,141 to 63,104.

The decision says the judges agree Tomlinson "properly sustained" objections to the majority of unopened ballots, but he was wrong, however, not to order the opening and counting of 53 special ballots cast by Ulster County election inspectors.

In some cases, those workers submitted their ballots more than a month early under the advice of commissioners Tom Turco and Vic Work.

Though the appellate judges agreed the commissioners issued the ballots earlier than the law allows, they say the law doesn't stipulate the earliest time the ballots can be cast.

"The voters did not violate any portion of the statute directed at them," the decision reads.

Of the other ballots the appellate court ruled opened, 26 of them were part of the 209 affidavit ballots in which the Supreme Court sustained on the grounds the envelopes contained inaccurate or incomplete information.

The appellate judges say those 26 contained all the legally-required information, and disagreed with the Tkaczyk argument the other 183 envelopes were not properly filled out because of misguidance from election inspectors.

The decision orders all the respective county boards to cast the ballots ordered counted, listing one of Albany County, eight of Greene, and the rest of Ulster, where Tkaczyk was favored on election night.

Amedore Spokesman Kris Thompson late Wednesday was asked whether the campaign has appealed to the Court of Appeals, but only said the decision was still being reviewed.

Previously, he'd issued a statement that said, "We are reviewing the court decision and will have a response at the appropriate time."

Tkaczyk Spokesman Gary Ginsburg said the campaign is keeping its options open. He said the campaign was pleased the appellate judges "agreed with the very basic principle that ministerial errors should not invalidate New Yorkers' rights to have their voices heard.

The statement noted though "there are many who still haven't had their votes counted," the campaign respects the judicial process and looks forward to a final resolution.

     

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