NY-20: Ballot Challenge-O-Rama

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After digging in deeper on the numbers for the NY-20 absentee ballots, it really looks like Democratic candidate Scott Murphy could have a whole batch of votes for himself that are being kept out of the count — but for which at least some of them could very well get back in — due to ballot challenges from the Tedisco campaign and the GOP.

The issue here is that the campaigns have the ability to challenge the unopened ballot envelopes, claiming a problem in how they were filled out, the eligibility of the voter, etc. These envelopes are then set aside until they can be resolved later by the judge presiding over this election (Judge James V. Brands of Dutchess County).

An attorney volunteering on the Tedisco campaign told the Hudson Register-Star that the campaign is getting the most mileage out of challenging voters with multiples residencies — specifically, folks who were registered in the 20th District, but whose driver’s licenses have New York City addresses.

And as Dutchess County deputy Democratic election commissioner Dan French bluntly told us: “A lot of the campaigns have actually called these people, and sometimes they know if it’s a Democratic or Republican ballot — or they think they know.”So far, the challenges appear to have come heavily more from the Republican side, in the counties that have released the numbers.

In Columbia County there have been 83 challenges so far. Democratic election commissioner Virginia Martin told TPM that “at least 70” from come from Tedisco and the Republicans. In Dutchess County there have been 36 challenges, with Democratic deputy election commissioner Dan French telling me those break down as 23 from the GOP, 11 from the Dems, and two where both have objected. And in Essex County, Dem commissioner David Mace tells us it’s 29 challenges: 18 from Republicans, seven from Dems, and four challenged by both.

Those are the major concentrations of uneven challenges. Also, Delaware County was nine total, with six by the Dems, three by the Republicans; Rensselaer was eight challenges, with four from each side. And Otsego County 60 challenges, but they break down as 31 from the GOP, 27 from the Dems, and two objected by both. And Greene County doesn’t have its breakdowns ready yet.

On the one hand, the matter is still left unclear because there are two types of challenges: The kind where a campaign tries to get a vote for the other guy thrown out, or to keep in for itself a vote that would have otherwise been throw out. On the other hand, a Tedisco attorney has quite openly said they’re targeting voters with multiple addresses. If we assume that most campaign-driven challenges will be rejected, this in turn means that Murphy could be sitting on a hidden margin of votes, to be unlocked after any necessary litigation down the road.

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