Editorial: An inaliendable right?

The back-and-forth antics of the 46th State Sentate race are finally at an end, with Democrat Cecelia Tkaczyk clutching a whisker-thin margin of victory over Republic George Amedore.

For Democrats, the significance of a win in the newly created 46th Senate District cannot be overstated. When redistricting maps were released in early 2012 Dems were quick to criticize its slender, arcing, six-county form as a blatant example of gerrymandering by a Republican-controlled Senate. Then Senator Bob Reilly told The Spotlight the removal of Democrat strongholds to the northeast was nothing short of “illegal and unconstitutional.”

How things have changed. Not only did a Democrat unexpectedly win the seat, but that helped to give Democrats a clear majority in the Senate chambers. (This is admittedly a moot point given the formation of a breakaway contingent of Democrats who will caucus with Republicans. New York, New York.)

But beyond a serving of humility to some politicos, the real lesson served up by the weeks-long electoral slog in the 46th has to do with process more than politics.

The figure of note has been 18, the number votes that ended up separating Amedore and Tkaczyk. With more than 126,000 ballots cast, that means this race was decided by just 0.0001 percent of the electorate.

It was close to a tie, in which case no one would be named to the seat — a do-over, if you will. In some other states the candidates would flip a coin in such an event, if you can imagine that. So residents of the 46th who turned out to vote should feel awfully important. But when things run this tight, it exposes the cracks in the system by an order of magnitude.

Amedore was certified the winner of this race for days and even filed an oath of office. That was before a legal ruling, pursuant to a lawsuit filed by Tkaczyk’s campaign, ordered 99 set-aside ballots opened and tallied, tipping the count. There but for the grace of the Supreme Court Third Judicial Department’s Appellate Division goes Senator George Amedore.

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