Oneida County in negotiation talks with Department of Justice over voter rights

Your Local Election Headquarters: New York State

ONEIDA COUNTY, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Oneida County is in settlement negotiations with the U.S. Justice Department over claims of voter disenfranchisement during the 22nd District Congressional race between Claudia Tenney and Anthony Brindisi.

The DOJ says it plans to sue Oneida County for violating voter’s rights in the Tenney-Brindisi race. The county is now in talks with the justice department to settle this out of court.  

Tenney won by 109 votes, but it took three months and a state judge’s ruling to declare a winner. The court found Oneida County’s elections board made multiple mistakes, including the failure to process 2,400 voter registrations through the DMV and the rejection of almost 1,800 affidavit ballots without verification.

“The point here is there were issues raised through the lawsuit that was before Justice DelConte in which the question of voter ability was denied in some way,” said Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente.

Picente demanded, and got, the resignations of both county elections commissioners.  Congresswoman Tenney says the DOJ has no legal basis to sue.   

“Weird claim coming from the DOJ trying to say that Oneida County somehow had some civil rights violation is completely frivolous and false,” Tenney said. “There were no civil rights violations by Oneida County. I think it was an attempt to intimidate the county and to maybe get some money out of them.”

Picente hopes negotiations will avoid the federal lawsuit, but he finds Tenney’s position curious, since she filed a state lawsuit that exposed the county’s errors.

“That’s petty politics,” Picente said. “And that’s a ridiculous kind of statement to make.”

On Tuesday, Tenney announced the creation of the Election Integrity Caucus in Congress. The mission of the caucus will focus on election integrity while opposing democratic plans for sweeping voting reforms. She will chair, alongside co-chair California Congressman Mike Garcia.

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