GOP congresswoman sworn in after narrow win in election plagued by voter suppression


Rep. Claudia Tenney won the election in New York's 22nd Congressional District by just 109 votes.

Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-NY) was sworn in to Congress on Thursday, regaining the seat she previously held from 2017 to 2019. In a district won by a margin of just 109 votes, an ongoing legal dispute over accusations of voter suppression delayed the final tally for months.

The result of Tenney's race against incumbent Democratic Rep. Anthony Brindisi in November's election was certified on Tuesday. She received 156,098 counted votes to Brindisi's 155,989 in New York's 22nd Congressional District.

Brindisi, who had objected to "errors, inconsistencies, and systematic violations of state and federal election law," conceded to Tenney after Judge Scott DelConte of the New York state Supreme Court ordered Tenney declared the winner.

DelConte had scolded election officials for their failures in running the election. "They were too busy? Too busy? To register 2,400 people who wanted to participate in this election?" he asked at a hearing in January. "I don't see them doing the best they could."

Perhaps the biggest issue in the race was that the Oneida County Board of Elections did not register 2,418 people who properly submitted registrations before the Oct. 9, 2020 deadline, disenfranchising all of them on Election Day. They processed just 640 of the more than 3,000 registrations sent by the Department of Motor Vehicles, blaming the pandemic, a lack of staff, and an increased vote-by-mail volume for the failure.

While the judge found no viable option to remedy the situation for this election, officials of both parties are now urging New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo to remove the county elections board members from their posts.

"The finding of violations of statutory provisions relating to the canvassing process is of great concern to me," Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente, a Republican, wrote on Tuesday.

"The evidence is overwhelming on why the commissioners should be removed," agreed New York State Board of Elections Co-Chair Doug Kellner, a Democrat.

Tenney's first term in Congress was marked by a 96.9% pro-Donald Trump voting record and a series of extremist comments.

In March 2018, she blamed Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson's payment of $31,000 in taxpayer money for a dining room set for his office on a "Deep State" conspiracy.

A month earlier she claimed that Democrats were responsible for most mass shootings. When pressed for her source for that claim, she blamed "media and liberals" for "attempting to politicize tragedies and demonize law-abiding gun owners and conservative Americans every time there is a horrible tragedy."

Brindisi said Tuesday that he was not ruling out running for the seat again in 2022.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.