By HEATHER NELLIS
Recorder News Staff
FONDA -- A deal between attorneys significantly reduced the number of Greene County ballots tried before Montgomery County Supreme Court Justice Guy P. Tomlinson Friday in proceedings for the 46th state Senate District.
Officials anticipate the same kind of deal can be negotiated to whittle the 521 disputed ballots from Ulster County to finish the Supreme Court review, before the tight race between Democrat Cecilia Tkaczyk and Republican George Amedore Jr. likely heads to the state Appellate Division, or the Court of Appeals.
Tomlinson paused proceedings Thursday so the deal could be negotiated, citing a desire to expedite proceedings after respective 11- and 10-hour sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Tkaczyk Spokesman Gary Ginsburg said the deal was struck in compilations of lists compared to one another like a Venn diagram, creating three categories of the 214 ballots.
Of the portions of the lists that overlapped, attorneys from each campaign agreed to withdraw 39 objections, and those items will be tailled after the judge finishes ruling on Ulster County ballots.
The attorneys wanted the court to rule on another approximate 50 ballots Friday, and of the remaining 75 percent, the attorneys presumed how Tomlinson would rule based on precedents established in the first two days of proceedings. Ginsburg said, however, the objections are preserved for appeal.
"Just because [the attorneys] agree the court might overrule or sustain the objections, doesn't mean they will stipulate to that," Ginsburg said. "It means they're keeping them intact for the appeals process."
"Everyone wants this done in a timely manner," Ginsburg added. "I really want to stress this is not a campaign issue, it's just an effective way to start dramatically decreasing the number of outstanding ballots, and we hope to use this pattern to get Ulster County accomplished quickly."
Total, 79 ballots were reportedly ordered counted under Tomlinson's judgment, and 81 objections upheld. Eight ballots were held to be ruled on Monday, as Tomlinson agreed to allow a Republican-hired private investigator to testify as a witness on residency objections. The investigator was not available Friday.
That brings the total number of ballots ordered counted to 159, as Tomlinson validated 80 ballots from Schenectady, Montgomery and Albany counties this week, with a smattering of other objections withdrawn.
Tkaczyk currently trails Amedore by 111 votes, though the majority of objections were called in Ulster County, where Tkaczyk was favored on election night with 61 percent of votes.
Both Ginsburg and Amedore Spokesman Kris Thompson expressed continued confidence their candidate would emerge the winner.
"We continue to remain confident and put a tremendous amount of trust in the justice system. This may be a lengthy process, but a process that will prove to be fair and just in the end," said Thompson.
"Cecilia remains confident, and as we complete this process, her victory will be confirmed. She looks forward to taking her seat in the next legislative session," Ginsburg said.