The Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, and Carolyn Fiddler, with additional contributions from David Jarman, Steve Singiser, Daniel Donner, James Lambert, and David Beard.
● NY-22: In a scathing ruling, a state judge excoriated seven local boards of election for botching the administration of last month's election in New York's 22nd Congressional District and ordered officials to fix their many errors, which could result in more than a thousand untallied ballots getting counted.
Last week, Judge Scott DelConte ordered all eight county boards to produce official tallies in the race between Democratic Rep. Anthony Brindisi and Republican Claudia Tenney, which showed Tenney up by just 12 votes. However, that result is now almost certain to change in one direction or another.
DelConte's lengthy opinion details officials' astonishing series of lapses by election officials, which most notoriously included failing to properly record objections to disputed ballots on the ballots themselves, as required by state law. Instead, in multiple counties, objections were recorded on sticky notes affixed to ballots, many of which were lost.
Meanwhile, thousands of affidavit ballots were never properly canvassed at all—that is, reviewed to see whether they were in fact cast by eligible voters. In Oneida County, for instance, 1,500 such ballots were "administratively rejected" and ultimately "placed in a cardboard box in a secure room, without any further action." And in Chenango County, at least 12 voters who cast absentee ballots never received a so-called "cure notice" informing them of errors with their ballots that could have been fixed. Another dozen Chenango ballots were "inexplicably found in a drawer, marked 'undetermined,' and never canvassed."
All in all, it's impossible to even know how many ballots were never tallied, since much of the testimony before DelConte was decidedly vague, with officials frequently describing situations involving "dozens" or even "hundreds" of problematic ballots. We have, however, cataloged the situation as thoroughly as possible in this Google doc.
As a remedy, DelConte instructed officials to "correct all errors with regards to past objections" to ballots and to properly mark all such objections. In that event that objections cannot be accurately reconstructed—which will undoubtedly be the case in many instances—administrators must conduct a new canvass. All ballots that were never canvassed in the first place must also be canvassed as well, and any cure notices that should have gone out but didn't must now be sent.
DelConte also chided both campaigns for arguing "for relief that tactically presents the best option for their ultimate victory." He specifically called out Tenney for asking that he certify the results as they currently stand, which show her leading, saying, "The winner of this election must be decided by the real parties in interest: the voters. And to do so, every valid vote must be counted." He also criticized Brindisi for asking the court "to place expediency above the Boards' compliance with their statutory duties, if it becomes too time-consuming to determine who the actual winner is."
Indeed, it may be some time before we see a final resolution to this election, but as DelConte put it, "It is more important that this election is decided right, than that it is decided right now."
● NC-Sen: Democratic state Sen. Jeff Jackson says he plans to "talk about" a bid for North Carolina's open Senate seat with his family over the holidays and will announce a decision in January. Jackson considered running for Senate last year, too, but declined after claiming Chuck Schumer told him, "We want you to spend the next 16 months in a windowless basement raising money, and then we're going to spend 80% of it on negative ads about [Republican Sen. Thom] Tillis."
Republicans made great hay of the remarks, which were improperly taped at a political science class guest-taught by Jackson that students were told was off the record. At the time, though, Jackson wouldn't rule out a 2022 run, noting that he expected a "crowded field" of candidates because Republican Sen. Richard Burr had already said he'd retire. "It's less relevant who the Chuck Schumers of the world support," said Jackson, "because I don't think they can get involved in a race when you have eight or 10 people running."
Prolonged basement-dwelling may also no longer be quite the requirement it once was even just a few years ago. Given the huge surge in online giving by progressive grassroots donors, it's possible candidates like Jackson don't have to spend as much time on the phone chasing down big contributions (finance directors are no doubt vigorously shaking their heads in disagreement right now).
Meanwhile, Supreme Court Justice Anita Earls says that supporters are trying to recruit her to seek the Democratic nod as well and wouldn't rule out the possibility she might go for it. Earls was first elected to an eight-year term on the high court in 2018, giving it a 6-1 Democratic majority, but Republican success in the 2020 elections has since narrowed that to 4-3, pending a recount. Earls would have to resign in order to run for Senate, allowing Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper to appoint a replacement who would serve until an election for a full term could be held in 2022.
● RI-Gov: Lt. Gov. Dan McKee, who'd previously been mentioned as a potential candidate for governor in 2022, told the Providence Journal's Katherine Gregg, "That's the plan" in a recent interview.
McKee has a notoriously distant relationship with the woman he's hoping to succeed, term-limited Democrat Gina Raimondo, so much so that, Gregg reports, he's been reduced to delivering letters to his nominal boss—which go unanswered. Despite the awkwardness, though, it appeared for a brief moment as though McKee might get elevated to the top job amid reports that Joe Biden would tap Raimondo for a post in his cabinet. However, the governor recently said she would not be joining the new administration.
● VA-Gov: Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy, one of several Democrats running for governor next year, has announced that she'll resign from the legislature on Saturday in order to concentrate on her bid for higher office. Crucially, the move will let her raise money during the upcoming legislative session that starts Jan. 13 and runs through the end of February, a time when lawmakers are forbidden from fundraising.
Carroll Foy's decision will also prompt a special election in her state House district, the 2nd, a once-Republican seat in northern Virginia that she flipped in 2017. The area has, however, since become safely blue, with Carroll Foy easily winning a second term 61-39 last year.
By contrast, state Sen. Jennifer McClellan, who is also seeking the Democratic nod, says she won't give up her perch in the General Assembly. However, while all seats in the House will be on the ballot next year at the same time as the governorship, senators aren't up for re-election again until 2023.