Consent decree for Oneida elections board over voter records
UTICA, N.Y. (AP) — The U.S. Department of Justice reached an agreement with a county elections board in central New York over voter registrations and provisional ballots, in the wake of federal election law violations coming to light in a tightly contested congressional race last year.
The Justice Department and the Oneida County Board of Elections filed the proposed consent decree with a federal court, which must still approve it, on Monday.
The department had said in March that it planned to sue the board over violations including thousands of voter registration applications that were not processed in time for last November’s general election, as well as the rejection of hundreds of affidavit ballots submitted at county polling sites, if a settlement was not reached.
The discovery of the violations came in the course of determining who had won New York’s 22nd Congressional District, the country’s final undecided race. A judge ruled in February that Republican Rep. Claudia Tenney had defeated the then-incumbent, Anthony Brindisi, by 109 votes.
During the court battle, it was found that 2,400 voter registrations that had been submitted before the filing deadline were not processed and added to voter rolls, and several hundred provisional ballots were rejected without properly being evaluated.
As part of the consent decree, the county board agreed to create policies and procedures to make sure voter registrations are processed, and train employees on provisional ballot requirements. It will also send reports on its compliance to the department.
In a statement, Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the department’s civil rights division said, “We will continue using critical federal voting rights laws to help ensure that eligible voters enjoy access to the ballot box.”
An email seeking comment was sent to the attorney for the county elections board.