POUGHKEEPSIE—Lawyers for both candidates vying to replace Kirsten Gillibrand in Congress appeared this morning in court in Dutchess County, without a judge. They still argued.
Judge James V. Brands, who will preside over absentee-ballot ballot arguments, is in the hospital undergoing tests this morning, his clerk told a courtroom packed with reporters, representatives of both campaigns, and several elections commissioners around the district.
The court was adjourned until Wednesday at 10 a.m.
During a brief appearance and while speaking to reporters afterward, lawyers for both sides estimated that with the counting of absentee ballots roughly half finished, there are already 600 ballots that have been objected to by at least one side and which will need to be fought over in court.
James Walsh, an attorney representing Republican Assemblyman Jim Tedisco and John Ciampoli, who is representing State Republican Chairman Joe Mondello, argued that until Brands can rule, things should remain at the "status quo ante," even if that means counting votes takes a little longer.
"We want to take some time and make sure that the ballots and opening of ballots is done in an orderly manner," Walsh said on the courthouse steps. "We just want to make sure that no fraud is committed."
In court, he said that officials in Essex and Delaware counties were violating a federal court order by opening ballots cast by military personnel. They are supposed to begin the process of opening those ballots Tuesday.
Walsh acknowledged that the campaign is objecting to ballots cast by people with multiple residences—including a home within New York City—who have cast ballots in the 20th district.
Jerry Goldfeder, a Democratic election lawyer and professor not affiliated with either campaign, has said that the legal precedent on this issue is clear—if you have two homes, you can vote at either, but not both—and objections amount to stalling. Ciampoli rebuffed that assertion.
"Courts have interpreted residence under the election law as where you are domiciled," he said.
Henry Berger, an attorney representing Democrat Scott Murphy, accused the Republicans of selectively stalling.
"We are concerned about how slow the process is going," he said. "Clearly the counting in those districts that Scott Murphy won is being slowed down."