A New York judge ruled Friday that Republican Claudia Tenney defeated U.S. Rep. Anthony Brindisi by 109 votes in the nation's last undecided congressional race.
The ruling by Judge Scott DelConte could clear the way for Tenney to be sworn in as the representative for central New York's 22nd Congressional District, barring emergency intervention by a state appeals court.
She previously was the district's representative for one term, until she was defeated by Brindisi, a Democrat, in 2018.
DelConte's ruling came after he spent three months reviewing ballot challenges and trying to fix a myriad of problems with vote tabulation. He rejected an argument by Brindisi's lawyers that certification of the election results be delayed until an appeals court had a chance to review the case.
DelConte's order directed New York to certify results immediately.
The judge said even if the results end up changing after any litigation, New York could simply amend its certification. He issued his ruling hours after a last public hearing, in which he told Brindisi's lawyers that he was disinclined to delay the results any further.
“I’ve been asked to stop this election ... and that’s a very very high burden,” he said.
Tenney has maintained a small lead even as months of litigation revealed problems with ballots that either weren’t counted properly or were improperly rejected. Tallies have shifted as county election officials counted a flood of absentee ballots and courts weighed in on which challenged ballots could be counted.
Brindisi had argued that once the election gets certified and Tenney is sworn in, only Congress has the power to remove her, not the courts.
Brindisi released the following statement on Twitter Friday evening.
"I am shocked and surprised by this decision because of the countless errors and discrepancies that have occurred throughout this initial count," Brindisi stated. "I believe a full audit and hand recount is the only way to resolve this race. 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. The law that took effect January 1 says we should abide by hand counts whenever the margin is 0.5% or less— it’s even closer here right now. Let’s follow that rule, get this right for our constituents and count all the 325,000-plus votes. It’s shocking, right now, no one knows who actually won this race. My opponent and I deserve true clarity."
"After 94 days of hard fought election process, I am grateful to the voters and supporters for having once again the privilege of serving our community in the House of Representatives," Tenney said on Twitter Friday night.
Copyright The Associated Press 2021. All rights reserved.