Thursday, April 09, 2009

Tedisco Tries To Disenfranchise Absentee Voters In Columbia County

With the counting of absentee ballots now begun, the contest between the lawyers is also under way. We already have reports of the first round of dirty tricks from Tedisco's legal team and it isn't pretty. Tedisco is trying to disenfranchise voters in the heavily Democratic Columbia County and the reasoning behind it is quite ironic.

From The Albany Project:

Those unfamiliar with Columbia County may not be aware that there has been, for many years, a large second home community here -- made up overwhelmingly, though not exclusively, of Democrats from New York City. Many of these voters have been here for many years, in some cases decades. As is entirely appropriate and legal, they have cast their ballots here without incident many times before, including just a few months ago for Barack Obama.

But as I'm hearing it, the Tedisco lawyer in Columbia (sent in by John Ciampoli) came prepared to challenge pretty much anyone who was a Democrat who had their absentee sent to a "downstate" address.

Now, the legal precedent has been affirmed many times on the State and Federal level that a person who owns more than one home can pick whichever of their homes' districts they want to vote in. The law is clear: You don't have to vote at your "primary" residence, where you file your main tax return. So long as you don't register and vote in more than one place, this is 100% legal. There are many good reasons for this: The right to representation where you pay taxes, the difficulty of determining primary residence, the fact that some professionals spend a large part of the year away from their main home, etc.

(How do I know this? Because for several years, I was deeply involved with a concerted effort to re-register these voters in Columbia County. We had the laws carefully reviewed by attorneys, and mailed out thousands of registration forms with legal backup.)

But Tedisco's team evidently wants to reverse that well-established legal principle, and is challenging Democratic second homeowners in Columbia wholesale. (They're also going after some students, apparently.) I don't know if they are doing this elsewhere, but Dutchess County similarly has a lot of weekender voters...

This is disenfranchisement of the most noxious variety, based on who you are, not based on valid and specific ballot defects.

Now a competent judge should be able to toss aside Tedisco's challenges with ease, but the very fact that he is attempting to throw out valid ballots is distasteful to say the least. The action speaks to how Tedisco feels about legitimate voters in the district, especially those that might ruin his chance of getting out of Albany and down to Washington.

Oh and the ironic part? Tedisco doesn't even live in the district he's running for. Shouldn't he be disenfrachised from running in it, according to his own lawyers?