Assemblyman Bob Reilly is confident that his slim 577-vote lead over Republican challenger Jennifer Whalen will hold up in the 109th Assembly District after absentee ballots are counted next week.
Almost 50,000 people voted in the 109th District race Tuesday, but the two candidates are only separated by slightly more than 1 percentage point in the tally. Unofficial figures with all districts reporting have Reilly ahead of Whalen 25,151 to 24,574. Reilly recieved 50.6 percent of the vote and Whalen 49.4 percent.
The 109th District includes the Saratoga County towns of Clifton Park and Halfmoon and the Albany County town of Colonie.
“It pretty much follows the pattern of the general election,” Reilly said on Wednesday about the absentee vote.
He said when the absentee ballots are counted Wednesday, Nov. 10, in Saratoga and Albany counties, he believes he will retain his slim lead in voting.
“I’m quite confident,” said Reilly, a Democrat.
The boards of elections in both counties sent out 2,856 absentee ballots, including military ballots; so far, 2,132 have been returned. Elections officials said ballots are still rolling in and any ballots postmarked seven days before the date of election but received before the count on Nov. 10 will be included in the total.
Whalen, 43, an attorney and small business owner, said in a written statement on Wednesday that the election is still too close to call.
“While we obviously would like to know the results, we need to be patient and let the elections officials do their job in such a close contest,” Whalen said in her statement.
“The fact that we are so close as challengers in a state and political system that protects its incumbents is a cause for our campaign and its volunteers to hold their heads high,” Whalen said.
Reilly, 70, a retired state Education Department official, is seeking election to his fourth term in the Assembly. Both he and Whalen live in Colonie.
Whalen beat Reilly in Clifton Park and Halfmoon 11,636 to 10,216. Reilly beat Whalen in Colonie 14,935 to 12,938, according to unofficial results with all districts reporting.
“The results don’t become official until all the absentees are counted,” said Deputy Commissioner Kathleen Donovan at the Albany County Board of Elections.
She said in Albany County 1,711 absentee ballots were given out and of these, 1,246 have been returned. None will be counted until Wednesday, Nov. 10.
“We will start with the 109th,” Donovan said about the absentee ballot counting, because the 109th race is the closest of any of the races in Albany County.
Donovan said generally each candidate is represented by an attorney when the absentees are counted. The candidates and their lawyers have the opportunity to challenge ballots.
“We should know by the end of Wednesday who the winner is,” Donovan said.
In Saratoga County, a total of 1,145 absentee ballots were distributed but only 886 have been returned.
Commissioner Roger J. Schiera of the Saratoga County Board of Elections said plans haven’t been finalized for counting the absentee ballots but he expects that the ballots in the 109th Assembly District would be counted first.
He said if individuals notify the Board of Elections that they plan to be present during the counting, then these counts are held first.
The candidates or their lawyers are able to contest the validity of an absentee ballot. Schiera said such details as the date on the ballot and the legibility of the ballot can be contested.
The Board of Elections officials then rule on the objections relatively quickly, often the same day.
Schiera also said the winner in the 109th District should be known by the end of Wednesday.
There is also the issue of military ballots and the fact that these ballots can be accepted by mail up until Nov. 24. In Albany County, 89 military ballots were distributed and 25 have been returned. In Saratoga County, 60 military ballots were distributed and 17 have been returned. The military ballots, which must be postmarked Nov. 1 but have a longer period to arrive by mail, are part of the overall absentee ballot count in each county.
Once the military ballots are counted, then the entire election can be certified and the numbers become final.
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