The U.S Department of Justice has entered into a proposed consent decree to settle a voting rights lawsuit with the Oneida County Board of Elections.

The Justice Department’s complaint alleges that before the November 2020 federal general election, the Board of Elections failed to process nearly 2,400 timely-submitted voter registration applications received through the state DMV.

The complaint also alleges that the state violated the Help America Vote Act by rejecting 1,800 provisional ballots cast by voters in Oneida County in the 2020 election without verifying the voters eligibility and without counting those provisional ballots cast by eligible voters.

The violations came to light during last year's tightly contested Congressional race between Anthony Brindisi and Claudia Tenney.

“We will continue using critical federal voting rights laws to help ensure that eligible voters enjoy access to the ballot box,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “The National Voter Registration Act requires states to ensure that voter registration applications submitted before the deadline for federal elections are timely processed, and that qualified voters are promptly included on voter rolls for federal elections. The Help America Voter Act ensures that registered voters who have been left off voting lists can cast provisional ballots that will be promptly verified and counted if the voters are found to be eligible. I am pleased that the Oneida County Board of Elections has worked with the Department of Justice and agreed to measures that will protect these vital rights and establish safeguards to ensure compliance with the law in future federal elections.”

The parties’ consent decree, which must still be approved by the court, provides that the Oneida County Board of Elections will develop and implement uniform and nondiscriminatory policies and procedures to ensure that election officials review and process all timely submitted voter registration applications in accordance with the NVRA.

The BOE will also provide periodic reports to the Justice Department regarding compliance with the proposed consent decree.

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