New York Democrats say Republican officials are trying to stall vote counting in the 41st and 46th Senate districts, as an attempt to keep Democratic candidates Cecilia Tkaczyk and Terry Gipson from being declared winners before the Senate reconvenes in January, according to the Albany Times-Union.
"Senate Republicans are actively trying to force governmental chaos to advance their political ends and overturn the will of the voters by purposefully delaying the counting of these races," State Sen. Michael Gianaris, D-Astoria, chairman of the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, told the paper.
Montgomery County Supreme Court Judge Guy Tomlinson ruled on Tuesday to allow counting to be done simultaneously in different parts of the 46th District, which covers five counties between Amsterdam and Kingston. With 10,000 absentee and affidavit ballots yet to be counted, Tkaczyk currently leads Assemblyman George Amedore, R-Rotterdam, by 139 votes.
And in the 41st District, Gipson leads Republican Sen. Steve Saland by a margin of 1,600 votes, but a Republican election official proposed waiting until after Thanksgiving to open absentee ballots.
Senate Republicans say that they are just trying to make sure that every vote is counted before any winners are declared.
"Our focus is on making sure we count every vote that has been legitimately cast, and that process will take exactly as long as it takes — not a second more," Scott Reif, a spokesman for Republicans who control the Senate, told the Times-Union.
Both Democrats and Republicans are gunning to get at least 32 of the chamber's 63 senators behind a majority leader from their party, who will then have control over what legislation is considered and how staff resources are allocated, according to the paper.
For now, it is up in the air as to whether a leadership vote can be taken with less than all 63 senators present – the state constitution refers to "a majority of the members elected" as well as "a majority of each house" in describing the chamber's powers.