By Zachary Stieber
Republican Claudia Tenney will be declared the winner of the last undecided House of Representatives race this election cycle, a judge ruled Friday.
Tenney ran against incumbent Democrat Anthony Brindisi to represent New York’s 22nd Congressional District.
New York Supreme Court Justice Scott DelConte said that all local boards of elections have certified their results, apart from the Oneida County Board of Elections, and granted a motion by Tenney to order final certification of the election results by the county and the state boards of elections.
Tenney will be certified the winner by 109 votes.
“I’m honored to have won this race. It was a hard-fought campaign and I think Anthony Brindisi for his service. Now that every legal vote has been counted, it’s time for the results to be certified,” Tenney said in a statement.
Brindisi said he was “shocked and surprised” and called for a full audit and hand recount.
“With the margin so thin, the ever-changing tally, and the countless errors that have occurred arriving at today’s final number we can’t afford to wonder here. We have to get it right. Because this is not a raffle, this is a congressional election,” he said.
The race was fraught with legal challenges, as both candidates asked the court to intervene shortly after polls closed on Election Day. The court heard testimony from 19 witnesses, received over 1,800 exhibits, and resolved nearly 1,200 ballot challenges. The judge found that 1,093 valid ballots were improperly rejected by Oneida County officials and that another 46 valid ballots were misplaced in Broome and Chenango counties.
The judge took aim at local election boards, criticizing them for what he described as “systemic violations of state and federal election law.” In an egregious example, he said Oneida County prevented more than 2,400 voters from voting because officials failed to process applications through the Department of Motor Vehicles.
The only claim of voter fraud was rejected.
“As a result of this special proceeding, every single valid vote that was cast … has been accounted for, and counted,” DelConte said in his ruling.
He said that a stay would be “entirely ineffective” and asserted Brindisi didn’t establish the “prospect of irreparable harm.”
The certification doesn’t preclude Brindisi’s planned appeal and he could eventually be seated, the judge said. Tenney, once certified the winner, will need to be seated by the House, which is controlled by Democrats.
House Democrats were mulling convening a panel to decide on seating Tenney and Mariannette Miller-Meeks, an Iowa Republican who won a House race by six votes. Miller-Meeks was provisionally seated last month as lawmakers continue weighing whether to intervene.
If Tenney is seated, the Democrats’ majority would dwindle to 221-212.
“It only took 94 days, but Claudia Tenney has finally been declared the winner in #NY22. It’s about time,” House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said in a tweet. “That’s the 15th House seat that Republicans flipped, and she joins 18 other women to set the record for our largest female freshman class ever.”
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