Schenectady County

The mayoral count: Alliance Party files suit to impound ballots; both candidates hire attorneys

Judge orders all parties to meet in court Monday at 10 a.m. to work out a schedule for the count.

The results of the mayoral election will have to wait another day.

The Alliance Party filed papers asking the state Supreme Court to impound the ballots that have not been counted.

Judge Vincent Reilly impounded the ballots and ordered all parties to meet in court Monday at 10 a.m. to work out a schedule for the count.

The court order says that counting can start no earlier than Tuesday.

“Nothing is going to be counted on Monday,” Election Commissioner Brian Quail said.

The commissioners are ready to start now, but they must wait until a time at which both parties’ attorneys can be present.

“It’s optimistic to say Tuesday. But I think it’s reasonable to expect Wednesday or Thursday,” Quail said.

Counting will likely continue through the end of the month, so the court order amounts only to a slight delay.

But it’s frustrating to the commissioners, who hurried through their post-election tasks so they could begin the count as soon as possible.

“We’re ready today. We’re ready to go,” Quail said.

Once counting begins, the commissioners will separate the affidavit and absentee ballots into piles by election district. They’ll start with district one, offering both attorneys a chance to object to any ballots in that district.

The attorneys can’t see the votes in each ballot, but can see the voter’s registered party and signature, the date and the voter’s application for an absentee ballot or the circumstances involved in their affidavit vote. Any of those items can be grounds for an objection. The signature on the absentee ballot envelope, for example, might not match the signature on the application.

In previous local counts, objections were even filed over the color of ink and type of pen used to vote.

Once the attorneys have decided which ballots they object to, the commissioners will open and count the other ballots and move on. Often, one candidate gains so many votes through that count that the other candidate concedes because there is no way to win even if every objection was waived and those ballots were counted. However, in other cases the state Supreme Court has had to make the final decision on which objections were valid and which ballots should be counted.

Alliance Party founder Roger Hull has hired a well-known elections lawyer, Jim Walsh. He’s also getting assistance from two Republican attorneys who live in the city, Michael Brockbank and Michael Cuevas.

Acting Mayor Gary McCarthy, the Democrat, has hired attorney Kathleen O’Keefe.

Currently, McCarthy is ahead of Hull by 77 votes, out of more than 9,000 cast. There are 529 absentee ballots, as well as 101 affidavits, emergency polling site ballots used when the voter’s name is not in the poll book.

Generally, only 20 to 50 percent of the affidavits are counted; the rest are usually ruled invalid because the voter is not registered to vote in this county.

Categories: Schenectady County

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