A potentially interesting situation is underway in New York's 23rd Congressional district where post-election canvassing of the recent Special Election for the U.S. House is still underway.
According to Syracuse's Post-Standard, the post-election canvass shows the race between Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman, who conceded on Election Night, and Democratic candidate Bill Owens, who was sworn in as the district's new U.S. Congressman last Friday, to be tightening as results are double-checked, errors are being found, and a few thousand absentee ballots are still uncounted.
The race, regarded by many as a a bellwether contest before next year's full Congressional elections, appeared to have swung in the Democrat's favor on Election Night, following the suspension of the campaign of Republican candidate Dede Scozzafava who threw her support to Owens after she'd dropped out just days prior to the election.
On Election Night, Owens was reported to be the "winner" by just over 5,000 votes, with 93 percent of the votes tallied, leading to Hoffman's concession. Since then, various errors have been discovered in at least two different counties, resulting in a gain of some 2,000 votes for the Conservative Party's Hoffman, bringing the latest tally to 66,698 to 63,672. Closer, now a 3,000 vote margin, but still favoring Rep. Owens.
There were, however, some 10,200 absentee ballots requested and distributed. And, as we understand New York's state election laws, none of them have yet been counted. Many of those ballots were purportedly cast when Scozzafava was still in the race. At that time, according to Hoffman's campaign at least, they might have had an edge in the then-three-way contest. So it's possible, though believed to be a long shot, that Hoffman could gain enough votes in absentees to eclipse Owens.
This scenario --- a Congressional candidate quickly sworn in, based on unofficial results shortly after a bellwether Special Election before all votes have been properly counted --- should be a familiar one to long-time readers of The BRAD BLOG. A very similar situation occurred in the 2006 race to replace the jailed Republican Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham in California's 50th Congressional district.
While Republicans who stood in support of the Conservative Party's Hoffman this year --- he was endorsed by the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, Michelle Malkin and the Republican Party itself (only after Scozzafava was pressured to drop out) --- are finding some cause for optimism in the still-narrowing margin. Limbaugh certainly has, at least according to his breathless reporting of the goings-on in NY-23 on his show this morning.
But the legal maneuvering and judicial precedent that the then-Republican-led House pulled in the Summer of 2006, in order to keep votes from being counted in the CA-50 Special Election and, indeed, to keep the voters of California from even being able to contest their own election, should ensure that Hoffman can no longer, legally, take possession of the House seat via any challenge in New York --- even if he's eventually found to have received more votes than Owens!...