CARS HOMES JOBS

Give voters benefit of doubt

Thursday, November 29, 2012
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Anyone who thinks that their vote doesn’t matter need only consider the closeness of New York’s 46th Senate District race — and what’s at stake with the outcome.

Of the more than 125,000 ballots cast, either on Election Day or via absentee or affidavit ballot, the margin between Republican George Amedore and Democrat Cecilia Tkaczyk is but 112 votes. Maybe that’s not as close percentage-wise as the 543 votes out of 6 million cast that separated George W. Bush and Al Gore when the dust finally settled in Florida in 2000, but it’s pretty darn close.

And while nothing as consequential as the presidency of the United States is at stake here, what is is quite a bit bigger than a single Senate seat: The party that prevails will control the state Senate, and if it’s the Democrats it means they’ll have a lock on not just the legislative branch of state government, but the executive as well.

Thus there’s an enormous amount riding on the 875 paper ballots yet to be counted — those that were set aside over the past few weeks due to technical objections from the two candidates’ representatives. And while it’s important that all the votes that get counted are legitimate, one can only hope that acting Montgomery County Supreme Court Judge Guy Tomlinson errs on the side of leniency when he begins the process sometime today of ruling which ballots to disqualify and which to count.

The numbers make it fairly obvious that lawyers representing the candidates are more inclined to contest ballots from communities where their opponent is stronger. Thus in Ulster County, where Tkaczyk received 61 percent of the vote on Election Day, 85 percent of the paper ballots set aside resulted were because of objections from Amedore’s people. While that’s not surprising, nor are assertions from Democrats that their opponents’ objections were “frivolous.”

In the end, it will be Tomlinson’s call. And while he needs to proceed with care, he should demand a heavy burden of proof before disqualifying any ballots. Elections should be decided by voters, not lawyers.

 
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