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Tedisco Scores Court Victory on Absentee Votes

By David A. Patten   |   Wednesday, 22 Apr 2009 03:25 PM

District 20 GOP candidate Jim Tedisco won a major legal battle Wednesday, as a judge reversed himself and ordered that Tedisco must be given the right to review voters’ applications for absentee ballots that were cast in his hard-fought election against Democrat Scott Murphy.

The applications could help reveal whether some absentee votes cast in the hard-fought election were fraudulent.

Tedisco attorney James E. Walsh released to Newsmax the following statement Wednesday, in response to the judge’s order:

“We have read the judge’s latest ruling and were happy to see that he agreed with our position on the issue of applications for absentee ballots. We maintain our belief that the question of residency is an important one to protecting the integrity of this election and ensuring that the primary residents of the 20th Congressional district are given sole responsibility for choosing their voice in Congress.”

Last week, Judge James V. Brands ruled that Tedisco should not receive copies of those absentee-ballot applications. Brands suggested Wednesday that new case law presented by the Tedisco legal team changed his mind regarding Tedisco’s right to review the applications.

Murphy’s legal team had argued that Tedisco had no standing to review the absentee-ballot applications.

The applications include personal data, job information, the applicant’s stated residence, the residence of the person who witnessed their application for the absentee ballot, as well as general information about why they would be unavailable to vote in person.

Tedisco has maintained that large numbers of New York City and Long Island residents who have second homes in the district cast absentee ballots for his Democratic opponent. Tedisco’s legal team says the absentee-ballot applications may reveal if the voter’s ballot should be challenged -- and the judge appeared to agree.

Brands’ ruling states that New York law gives candidates the right to challenge applications for absentee ballots, adding: “Common sense dictates that in order to intelligently form a decision as to whether an objection should be made, the applications contents must of necessity be perused.”

Although Tedisco contends ballots from voters whose primary residence is in another jurisdiction should be tossed out, Brands refused to issue a blanket order on that question. Instead, he said that the validity of absentee ballots based on residence should be decided on a case-by-case basis.

Tedisco’s successful appeal of Brands’ earlier ruling was welcome news for a campaign that has seen Murphy gain steadily based on the counting of absentee ballots. Murphy’s 273-vote lead has held steady since Friday.

State election officials tell Newsmax the vote count will probably change again late Wednesday afternoon due to a small number of additional ballots being counted in Saratoga, Warren, and Washington counties.

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