November 16, 2012

Ballots impounded in judicial race

MALONE — A judicial candidate who claims fair access was denied when results were counted election night obtained a court order to have ballots impounded in 11 counties.

Franklin, Essex and Clinton counties are included in the order from Montgomery County Supreme Court Judge Vincent Reilly to cease all activities concerning the election for State Supreme Court justice in the Fourth Judicial District.

That district also includes Fulton, Hamilton, Montgomery, Saratoga, Schenectady, St. Lawrence, Warren and Washington counties.

Incumbent Supreme Court Justice Joseph Sise, Schenectady Family Court Judge Christine Clark and Rotterdam attorney Thomas Buchanan were elected to the bench on Nov. 6.

Acting Montgomery County Supreme Court Judge Felix Catena is leading Franklin County Family Court Magistrate John Ellis by 61 votes for the last of four seats on the panel.

Catena has brought the legal challenge, saying his representatives were excluded from witnessing re-canvass results within the judicial district, said Franklin County Attorney Jonathan Miller.


Thousands of absentee ballots were returned in the respective counties, but not all have been opened and counted as election commissioners conduct their followup canvass of voting machines, which enables them to certify the results.

But the cease order from Reilly, which was received by the Franklin County Board of Elections via fax at 12 a.m. Thursday, states that all boards of election must secure “all Election Day ballots and election materials” in a bipartisan manner and appear in Schenectady County Court at 9:30 a.m. Monday.

Franklin County legislators were upset, at first, about the news, thinking they had to send three people, as well as the county’s collection of

voting machines, to Montgomery County, south of Albany.

But clarification from Election Commissioners Veronica King (Republican) and Kelly Cox (Democrat) determined that the ballots are all that are needed.

The commissioners said they complied with the court order and secured the ballots with a two-lock system.

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