More votes to be counted in Amedore Tkaczyk race

ALBANY – An additional 99 disputed ballots will be counted in the state Senate race between Republican George Amedore and Democrat Cecilia Tkaczyk.

New York’s highest court Wednesday paved the way for the counting of the ballots, which could be tabulated by the end of this week and change the outcome of the race in the 46th Senate District, which includes Montgomery County.

Amedore previously was declared the winner of the election by 37 votes, but the counting of the 99 disputed ballots could result in a win for Tkaczyk. Fifty-three of the disputed votes were processed by election inspectors in Ulster County, where Tkaczyk had strong support. Forty-six are other affidavit and absentee ballots.

“We accept the Court of Appeals decision not to hear either side in this extended campaign for the 46th state Senate seat,” said Kris Thompson, a spokesman for Amedore. “We anticipate the remaining 99 ballots will be counted by the end of this week. We look forward to the final counting and we remain confident. It has been a lengthy process that should be concluded shortly.”

Gary Ginsburg, press secretary for Tkaczyk, said, “We look forward to resolving the electoral process and counting the ballots ruled valid by the courts to ensure these New Yorkers have their voices heard.”

The state Supreme Court’s Appellate Division previously directed the five counties’ election boards to count 53 votes cast in Ulster County and 46 other affidavit and absentee ballots.

The court concluded Acting State Supreme Court Judge Guy Tomlinson incorrectly upheld objections to the ballots. Tomlinson’s decision made Amedore the winner, pending appeals.

Amedore appealed to the Court of Appeals to block the counting of the disputed 99 ballots, but the court decided against hearing the case.

Since the Nov. 6 election, the candidates have traded leads through the long count of absentee and paper ballots.

The 4-1 Court of Appeals ruling that sided with Democrats included three judges appointed by former Republican Gov. George Pataki. A dissent was written by Judge Victoria Graffeo, another Pataki appointee.

She argued for the court to consider the appeal because the election inspectors completed their special ballots more than two weeks before Election Day, apparently in an administrative error. Election law states the votes must be made within two weeks of election. The lower court, however, found no violation of the law, which prompted the Republican appeal.

“We have traditionally required strict compliance with these procedures, even when an inadvertent error by a board of elections has proven detrimental to the voter,” Graffeo argued.

If Tkaczyk wins the race, the balance of power in the Senate chamber could change.

A Tkaczyk win would give Democrats 33 seats in the 63-seat chamber, which in past years would have been a clear majority.

However, shortly after their majority power was in doubt following the election, Republicans struck a deal with the five breakaway Democrats who created the Independent Democratic Conference. Together, they share power this year. That leaves the traditional Democratic conference in the minority, without a share of the perks and power of a majority. New Senate rules require the IDC and Republican leaders to agree on measures that will get to the floor for a vote.

If Tkaczyk wins, Democrats will have gained two seats in recounts since Election Day, giving the IDC and traditional Democrats more than the 32 votes needed to pass legislation if they partnered. The IDC and Democratic conference did just that Monday in passing a gun-control bill, parts of which were blocked in past years by the Republican majority.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.