SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — As the Democratic Elections Commissioner for Onondaga County, Dustin Czarny is watching the court battle in the neighboring congressional district from the sidelines.

But Czarny also chairs the Democratic Caucus of the State Elections Commissioner Association, where he’ll play a role in crafting future election law.

On Tuesday, State Supreme Court Justice Scott DelConte blamed boards of elections across eight counties for the record-keeping mistakes and sloppy organization that resulted in the 22nd Congressional Race ending up in his courtroom.

In his ruling, the judge writes:

“The problems experienced by the candidates and, consequently, all of the voters across the eight counties in New York’s 22nd Congressional District, were a direct result of ‘the careless or inadvertent failure to follow the mandate of statute and case law by the Boards of Election.”

Czarny isn’t as hard on his elections colleagues in other counties.

Czarny tells NewsChannel 9:

“The law was meant for a smaller volume of challenges and smaller volume of absentees… you would write the ruling on the envelope and the commissioners would make rulings at the exact time of a challenge. It’s just not feasible at these large volumes.”

To handle the surge of mailed-in votes open to everyone, as allowed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo during the pandemic, the Onondaga County Board of Elections paperclipped notes of each challenge to each ballot envelope, kept a log of each, and would have transferred the details directly to each envelope as the last step only if they were needed for a court proceeding.

He says, had one of his office’s races gone to court, he would be accused of similar failure to strictly follow a law requiring ballot challenges to be written on the corresponding envelope.

“We came up with a system, but we were able to see that this wave was happening,” says Czarny. The boards may have not at the time to see that. That’s where the State Board and State Legislature need to come in and standardize these things and fix some of these holes.”

Czarny will push for statewide changes to election law including combining the absentee process with the so-far-successful early voting process.

He explains that as ballots are mailed in, they’re counted in real-time and made part of the day’s early vote total.

To give candidates their right to challenge the validity of a ballot, Czarny suggests that boards of elections open up their data and copies of each ballot to the campaigns as they come in, so the candidates can challenge ballots long before their results might hinge on them.

Czarny says, “You hate, as an elections administrator, to be a focal point where a election might turn on a mistake. It’s obviously something every board of elections is going to learn from.”

The eight boards across NY22 will begin complying with the judge’s orders, fix their record-keeping mistakes, and return to court with updated unofficial results on Dec. 18.