City Judge-elect Jeffrey Wait widened his lead Thursday to clinch a victory in a race that had been too close to call since Election Day.
Including absentee and affidavit ballots that the Saratoga County Board of Elections counted Thursday, Democrat Wait’s final tally is 6,445 votes to Republican Matthew Dorsey’s 6,112, a difference of 333 votes.
The City Court judge race was the only city race in this election, and a reported Election Night gap of 108 votes between the candidates meant neither one wanted to call the race until they saw what the absentee ballots would bring.
A recanvassing of the voting machines showed Wait’s lead as 242 votes, not counting the paper ballots.
On Thursday, elections employees from each party opened and counted 1,200 city absentee ballots in Ballston Spa, with representatives from Wait’s and Dorsey’s campaigns standing by to observe and double check the results.
Six Board of Elections employees — three Republicans and three Democrats — split into three teams to tear open absentee ballot envelopes for each voting district in the city, shuffle the paper ballots and then count the votes cast for city judge.
“They’re our regular staff,” said Diane Wade, Republican commissioner for the Board of Elections.
Part-time employees counted local races that were not as high-profile, and absentee votes cast for the other races will be counted today and next week until they’re finished, Wade said.
Wait said he is relieved that the campaign is over and he looks forward to starting his new job.
“I spent the whole week worrying,” he said.
The new full-time judge will be paid $108,000 a year. He was elected to a 10-year term replacing Douglas Mills, who did not seek another term.
Wait will join part-time judge James Doern in City Court after Jan. 1.
He also will give up his private practice on Broadway by the end of the year, he said.
Dorsey retained elections attorney James Walsh to oversee Thursday’s counting, and Walsh was satisfied with what he saw, Dorsey said.
“I just called my opponent and congratulated him,” Dorsey said Thursday afternoon.
“It was close, and I’m very thankful for the support I received from my volunteers.”
The Skidmore College vote went overwhelmingly to Wait, likely because most students supported President-elect Barack Obama and voted Democrat across the board.
“It’s a tough deficit to overcome,” Dorsey said.The two candidates were almost evenly matched in the rest of the city.