Posted: April 16, 2009
NY-20 update - Tedisco challenges Gillibrand's ballot
Candidate Jim Tedisco has challenged the ballot of Senator Kirsten Gillibrand who used to hold the seat he now seeks in Congress. Challengers allege that she was in the county on election day and should have voted in person. Senator Gillibrand says she was not in the county and that Tedisco is targeting Democratic voters unfairly. A judge is expected to rule soon on the counting of some challenged ballots and the possibility of extending the deadline for military and overseas ballots. Murphy currently leads by 86 votes. See today’s Saratogian coverage here. New York law allows persons who will be out of the county on election day to vote by absentee ballot. 8-400. The voter must sign a statement on the ballot application affirming that he or she “expects in good faith” to fall into one of the categories of voters who may vote absentee. Challengers may challenge voters on the grounds that they were not entitled to cast an absentee ballot. 8-506.
Voting both by absentee ballot and in person on election day is controversial. During the 2008 presidential primaries, a New Jersey county court ruled that voters who cast their ballots before some candidates pulled out of the presidential race could get a replacement absentee ballot. In Minnesota, voters who cast an absentee ballot may vote in person without penalty; their absentee ballot is then not to be counted because poll workers should see that the voter signed the poll roster and voted in person before opening the voter’s absentee ballot. The practice is not necessarily encouraged but it is permitted. Some argue that actively allowing a second ballot to be issued to a voter unfairly gives that voter two chances to vote even if only one ballot is ultimately counted. In New York, when two absentee ballots are received from one voter, the one that is dated earlier in time is opened and counted. 8-506. This may imply a preference in New York election law for counting a voter’s first set of choices rather than giving the voter a second chance to make his or her voting decisions.