Utica, N.Y.—The effects from the NY-22 congressional court case are still being felt months later in Oneida County, as County Executive Anthony Picente has requested the board of legislators approve a budget transfer of $102, 152 dollars to pay for the legal fees the county had. Picente chose to seek two independent counsels to observe the recount and represent Oneida County.
“I just felt there was a better way to approach it to avoid any question of conflict,” Picente explained. “But also to have a fresh set of eyes on each side and that each party could feel comfortable with and each candidate could feel comfortable with, in addition to their own counsels, that there was someone else looking at this.”
During the court case, Justice Scott DelConte found that seven of the eight county board of elections represented in the NY-22nd district had erred in some way, from not properly marking ballots to misplacing ballots and the biggest error, failing to register 2,418 residents who applied on time through the DMV.
The NY-22 court case exposed many flaws in the system that many wouldn’t know were there if the case had never happened. I reached out to the New York State Board of Election for an interview to see what their plans were to rectify these issues in the future. Their Director of Public Information Records Access Officer, John Conklin declined a request for an interview because of “two active investigations going on at this time,” he provided the following statement:
“The State Board of Elections is actively engaged on multiple levels with the Oneida County Board of Elections and providing constructive support for the new commissioners and staff. Our review is ongoing and focused on ensuring past issues are corrected and similar problems do not recur. We will provide any and all training as necessary to support the new staff and the additional resources the Oneida legislature has decided to devote to the county board.”
It has been reported that Oneida County is being investigated by the United States Department of Justice for voter disenfranchisement, but the news of a second investigation came as a surprise. Oneida County Attorney, Peter Rayhill said that it’s not an official investigation, but that the State Attorney General’s office requested information from his office.
“The office of the attorney general has communicated with us and they expressed concern over the decisions that were rendered by Justice DelConte in the lawsuit over the 22nd congressional district,” Rayhill said. “And their interest is in ensuring the constitutional rights of the citizens of the state so they requested some documents which we’ve been supplying.”
I reached out to Attorney General Letitia James’s office for comment and did not hear back.