Corwin Gets Pre-Emptive Legal Action In NY-26

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Jane Corwin, the Republican candidate in today’s high-stakes NY-26 special election, has obtained a judge’s order to bar the certification of the result and impound certain election materials when polls close this evening. Such an action is not far out of the ordinary in New York, but is an indicator that a close result is expected.

“Usually, any time they expect the race to be somewhat close, they usually do the impoundment order so the parties involves have an opportunity to see how those ballots get counted,” state Elections Board spokesman Thomas Connolly told TPM.

Connolly, who made clear that he did not yet have the chance to fully read the order, said that these orders typically apply to absentee ballots and provisional ballots (the latter of which are called “affidavit ballots” in New York). Also in New York elections, absentee ballots are not counted on election night at all, but in the following days.

However, the great majority of votes are cast on optical-scan ballots, and the readings from those scan machines will likely continue. “At the end of the day, we’ll still have the machine numbers,” said Connolly.The Buffalo News reports:

Pending court proceedings before [Judge] Buscaglia on Thursday at the earliest, the judge also impounded all voting equipment and enjoined the canvass of paper ballots “except as directed by this court” and “temporarily enjoined and restrained from certifying” the winner pending that court hearing.

Chris Grant, a spokesman for the Corwin campaign, said the court action “is very typical” in such close elections.

“We recognize the closeness of the race and we want to make sure that every legal vote is counted fairly and accurately,” Grant said.

Democratic candidate Kathy Hochul campaign spokesman Fabien Levy told TPM: “We’re not worried about this.”

As an example of this practice in New York elections, Republicans in the 2009 special election for NY-20 filed a similar petition, before the polls closed. That close race ultimately did see a certain amount of litigation over absentee ballots, but Republican Jim Tedisco conceded as the count progressed and Democrat Scott Murphy’s lead became insurmountable.

A copy of the order, plus the Corwin campaign filing, is available below:

Impound Order For Results In NY-26 Special Election

Additional reporting by Benjy Sarlin.

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