We can now add another illustrious name to the list of absentee voters whose ballots in the NY-20 special election have been challenged by the campaign of GOP candidate Jim Tedisco: Sam Seder, the liberal talk-radio host with Air America!
Sam posted a message on Twitter yesterday: “NY20th race Tedisco challenged my absentee ballot. 4 days before the election I was jury foreman for a trial in NY20th. Challenge Fail.”
The Tedisco camp had previously challenged U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s ballot — the person that Tedisco is seeking to replace in Congress — and now Sam is on the list, too.The jury had served on March 26 and March 27, and Election Day was March 31. Since this past October, Sam has maintained a second place in New York City for his radio job, and voted absentee because he would be at work on Election Day. Other than the need to be in New York City for work, he has been living full-time in Columbia County.
In fact, I was able to confirm with Columbia County Democratic election commissioner Virginia Martin that Sam’s ballot has indeed been challenged by the Tedisco campaign — on the grounds that he does not legitimately live in the district. Martin overruled the challenge, while the Republican deputy commissioner sustained it, keeping the vote out of the count until further notice.
Sam told me that he found out through a friend of his who had contacted the county for the list of challenged ballots. “He was sending out e-mails to people saying, check on this list to see if your name was on it,” Sam said. And he was quite surprised to find his name on the list: “I thought there was no way that my ballot was gonna be challenged.”
Sam was none too impressed when I told him that the Tedisco campaign alleged that he wasn’t a resident of the district. “Jerks,” he said. “I mean, I could tell you I’ve attended far more Livingston town meetings than Jim Tedisco has.”
He added: “I just think it’s ironic that this guy doesn’t live in the 20th, and he’s challenging my residency.”
And Sam’s service on a jury should be proof enough that he’s a resident. Columbia County commissioner of jurors Loretta Salvesvold could not confirm for me the circumstances of any individual juror, but she could explain to me the general law that eligibility for jury service is dependent on a person’s primary residence being in that area — that this is where the person spends most of their time.
An e-mail for comment to the Tedisco campaign has not been returned.
(Also, it is indeed true that Tedisco doesn’t live in the district. However, the federal Constitution does not have a district-residency requirement, only a state-residency requirement. There are in fact House members on both sides of the aisle right now, who either don’t live in their districts or didn’t at the time when they were first elected — and this number goes up significantly if we count the ones who really live in Washington.)