DOJ: New York county violated voter rights in House race

The Justice Department has determined that a county in New York violated voter rights in a House race last year for the state's 22nd Congressional District.

Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Pamela Karlan sent a two-page letter to Oneida County, N.Y., on Tuesday notifying it that the Oneida County Board of Elections violated two federal election laws, according to a copy of the letter reported by Syracuse.com.

The letter said that the county failed to process at least 2,400 voter registration applications that were submitted through the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles, the news outlet reported. It also said that some of those voters who properly registered weren’t given a chance to vote. 

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The letter also said that county officials improperly rejected hundreds of affidavit ballots despite them being cast by eligible voters, syracuse.com reported.

The DOJ offered a chance to negotiate a settlement before a lawsuit is filed. Oneida County District Attorney Peter Rayhill confirmed to the news outlet that they received the letter, and says the county intends to work out a settlement.

Former Rep. Anthony Brindisi (D-N.Y.) conceded to Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-N.Y.) in early February after a three-month legal battle over the rematch.

The New York Supreme Court ordered counties to certify Tenney as the winner. At the time, Tenney was barely leading by 109 votes.

Brindisi responded to the DOJ’s findings on Wednesday, saying, “the systematic pattern of voter disenfranchisement by the Oneida County BOE led to hundreds, if not thousands, of voters being denied the right to vote. Glad the @CivilRights is taking action to correct this wrong. #NY22.”

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Tenney told The Hill in a statement that election officials were asked to do more with no additional resources.

“While the Oneida County Board of Elections bears significant responsibility for the administrative mistakes it made, the issues raised in this race are likely not isolated,” she said in the statement. “Boards of Elections across New York were under resourced and overstretched in the 2020 election.” 

 

The Hill has reached out to Brindisi, the DOJ and Rayhill for additional comment.