The Schenectady County Board of Elections won’t begin counting absentee ballots until Nov. 15, just one day before the state’s deadline to begin the process.
Under New York Election Law a county board of elections office must notify candidates on the ballot of when and where they will begin counting absentee, military, special and affidavit ballots, said John Conklin, the director of public information for the State Board of Elections office. That notification must be sent five days before the counting process takes place.
“Many boards send it out before Election Day,” Conklin said.
The process then must begin no later than 14 days after Election Day — or Nov. 16, in this case.
The county isn’t beginning until Nov. 15 because it needs data, including absentee requests and early voting history before starting the absentee count and then certification process, said Amy Hild, the Democratic Commissioner for the county board of elections office.
In Schenectady, the absentees will determine very close races in Niskayuna and Glenville, where some candidates are only separated by a couple dozen votes.
For instance, the Niskayuna race has Democratic candidates John Della Ratta leading Denise Murphy McGraw by 61 votes for a board seat.
In Glenville, Democrat Mike Godlewski had a 23-vote edge over Republican Kaitlyn Cook for a board seat.
“Unofficial results will be available at the end of each day of counting, or when completed, whichever is earlier,” Hild said.
Exactly how long it will take to count the absentees is unknown at this time, Hild said.
“All of the ballots have already been reviewed by bipartisan teams to ensure timely receipt, seal and signature match,” she said. “We will re-inventory the ballots, hear and rule on objections, if applicable, and open and canvass the ballots. Certification will follow as quickly as we are accurately able to do so.”
Conklin said the local elections office must submit a certified statement of canvass to the state 25 days after the election or by Nov. 27.
Should 20 votes or 0.5% separate any candidates after the absentees are counted, a hand-count would be triggered, Hild said.
For Niskayuna, the elections office received back 290 absentee ballots. Glenville got back 363.