It’s the most wonderful time of the year…a good time for holiday celebration, but not a good time to still be counting ballots. Yet the state senate election here in Dutchess County has dragged into December with no sign of resolution. Senator-elect Terry Gipson defeated Senator Steve Saland last month, winning by roughly 1,600 votes on election night. Absentee ballots remained; now, over a month later, fewer than half have been tabulated. Why the tedious pace? It appears that Republican election lawyers are playing a cynical game. Lacking the votes to win, they have resorted to a strategy of “delay and delegitimize.” So they allow Saland-friendly ballots to be opened and challenge the rest. This slows the process to a crawl; folks, you haven’t experienced “slow” until you’ve watched lawyers pore over one ballot per hour . In the meantime the 41st Senate district remains in limbo, thousands of legitimate votes are in danger of being uncounted and the transition is delayed. It doesn’t have to be this way. This can be done quickly and efficiently as every other county in New York has done. Challenge only those ballots that feature real discrepancies, and let the rest be counted. That a ballot might contain a vote for your opponent is not a legitimate reason to challenge it. Republicans are tarnishing Senator Saland’s career by enmeshing his final month in office in an absurd legal battle. The voters have spoken. Let’s count their ballots and move on with the people’s business. Brian D. Kelly Red Hook
EDITOR’S NOTE: On Dec. 12 the Saland campaign instructed their attorneys to stop challenging votes and to allow the count to proceed. On Dec. 13, Saland conceded the race.