Race uncalled

U.S. Rep. Anthony Brindisi and Claudia Tenney debate during an editorial board meeting at the Syracuse Post-Standard in 2018. Mail-in and absentee ballots were still being counted in their race for a New York congressional seat — Tenney, a Republican, leads by about 3,400 votes.

WASHINGTON (TNS) — Two weeks after Election Day, 11 races for the U.S. House of Representatives do not have a clear or projected winner. Seven of those races are in New York.

The contest in New York’s 19th Congressional District had not yet been officially called by the Associated Press as of Tuesday. Nor had close races in New York’s 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 18th, 22nd and 24th.

These elections have not yet been decided as a result of some very close races and slow absentee ballot counting, compared to other states.

Across the state, hundreds of thousands of absentee ballots are still being counted. In some places, the count has been slowed by legal challenges. In other places, election officials are struggling with the record number of absentee ballots.

Counties couldn’t start counting absentee ballots until Nov. 6, after the state compared all affidavit and absentee ballots to ensure no one attempted to vote twice. The law allowed ballots to be counted if they were received up to Nov. 10 and up to Nov. 16 for military and overseas ballots, if they were post-marked by election day.

The law also allows counties to decide when they’ll start counting absentee ballots as long as it’s within two weeks of the election and the count is completed and certified by Nov. 28.

The result is a decentralized approach to counting ballots across the state, amid a larger patchwork election system that varies widely across the country. It also appears that New York’s absentee ballot counting process is slower than just about every other state.

In the 19th District in Ulster County on Tuesday, they still had about 14,000 absentee ballots and affidavits to wade through, said elections Commissioner Ashley Dittus.

The count there was slowed two days because of two lawsuits regarding state Senate campaigns for the 42 and 46 districts, Dittus said.

”As part of those lawsuits there was a period of discovery in which our board was required to produce documents. Items such as absentee envelope scans, affidavit ballot scans and poll book signature records,” Dittus explained. The lawsuits also dictated when the count could begin and meant that candidate representatives are watching the count and challenging individual ballots as it goes on.

Sullivan County in the 19th District is also still counting ballots, an official there said.

While the delays mean that the campaign of U.S. Rep. Antonio Delgado, D-Rhinebeck, is still waiting for counting to wrap up, Delgado claimed victory on Nov. 4 over his Republican challenger Kyle Van De Water. The remaining absentee ballots appear unlikely to overturn Delgado’s lead in the race.

Similarly, in New York’s 18th District, U.S. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, D-Cold Spring, said Nov. 4 that even with ballots outstanding it’s clear his margin of victory over Republican Chele Farley will only increase, the Mid-Hudson News reported. In New York’s 1st District, U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-Shirley, announced his win on Election Night with a strong margin but ballots yet to be counted.

In New York’s 24th District, Democrat Dana Balter conceded to U.S. Rep. John Katko, R-Camillus, on Friday.

In other uncalled races in New York, the margins are even closer.

In the 22nd District, former Republican Congresswoman Claudia Tenney leads U.S. Rep. Anthony Brindisi, D-Utica, by about 6,800 votes with 8,500 votes remaining, CNYCentral.com reported. Their race also faced a post-election lawsuit over ballot counting.

In the 2nd District, Republican Andrew Garbarino lead Democrat Jackie Gordon for the open seat left by U.S. Rep. Peter King, R-Seaford, by a margin of 44,497 votes. According to Newsday, there were only about 63,000 absentee ballots cast, so Garbarino is a favorite.

In the 3rd District, Republican George Santos leads U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi, D-Glen Cove, in a nail-biter, separated by a margin of just 918 votes. Newsday reported more than 99,000 absentee ballots were cast, so Suozzi is expected to close that gap.

Around the country, the three other House races that remained uncalled by the Associated Press are New Jersey’s 7th District, Iowa’s 2nd District — the closest federal race in the country, where a recount is underway — and California’s 21st and 25 Districts. Two Democratic representatives who won these California House seats in 2018 are attempting to hold on there. In the 21st, the margin was just over 2,000 votes and in the 25th, it was a slim 104 votes as of Tuesday morning.

The races are not expected to overturn the Democratic majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, but the majority is expected to be the smallest since World War II.

In New York, the pandemic provided a sort of dry-run for a constitutional amendment to allow no-excuse absentee balloting that is under consideration in the state, Cornell University Politics Lecturer Dan Lamb said. Local election officials may need more resources in the future to keep up, he said.

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