With more than 4,000 absentee ballots now counted in the race for the vacant congressional seat, Democrat Scott Murphy has an 86-vote lead, but there are still about 2,700 ballots to be counted.
On Wednesday, Saratoga County, the largest in the 10-county district, finished its tally and reported that Republican James Tedisco received 672 paper ballots and Murphy received 509. Most other counties had been updating their vote totals each day they counted, but Saratoga County waited until the end.
Washington, Otsego, Greene and Delaware counties also have finished counting all their absentee, military and overseas ballots, said state Board of Elections spokesman John Conklin. Counting is still under way in Columbia, Dutchess, Essex, Warren and Rensselaer counties, Conklin said.
Totals updated late Wednesday afternoon showed Murphy with 79,105 votes and Tedisco with 79,019 votes.
About 6,700 absentee ballots were mailed back to the county board of elections offices, so about 2,700 votes are waiting to be counted or haven’t been counted because they’ve been challenged by one or both parties.
Judge James Brands in state Supreme Court in Poughkeepsie heard arguments from the campaigns Wednesday morning about the counting of the absentee ballots and residency requirements.
The Tedisco campaign has urged officials to take things slowly and make sure people who mailed absentee ballots were legally correct to vote in the district; the Murphy camp wants ballots that were contested to be counted and the election to be resolved soon.
The two sides differ on whether people who have one home within the district and another home in New York City should be allowed to vote in the election, with the Murphy camp saying they should and the Tedisco camp saying they shouldn’t.
Conklin said the judge is likely to ask to see the uncounted ballots and will examine each one.
“At that point, literally the election will be in his hands,” Conklin said.
workers on edge
Tempers flared Wednesday at the Saratoga County Board of Elections where employees and lawyers for both camps scrutinized and sometimes counted absentee ballots.
Republican Commissioner Diane Wade fumed at the slow pace of the counting, which has inched along because of multiple objections and discussions.
“This is going to be done today and numbers are going to the state board,” she ordered at one point.
During one particular grueling 45-minute interval, only one ballot was counted.
Democratic Commissioner William Fruci appeared irked when GOP attorney Robert Farley objected to an absentee ballot of someone living overseas that was received on Election Day.
Farley said the so-called “special federal” ballots were required to be received by March 30, the day before the election.
Both commissioners and the Murphy campaign said that isn’t the case, because a court order extended the deadline both for federal and military ballots.
But Farley disagreed, so that ballot and others that also were received after March 30 were set aside uncounted.
“The Tedisco campaign is misstating the law and is ignoring the federal court decision,” said Murphy election attorney Henry T. Berger.
On Tuesday, lawyers for the Tedisco campaign challenged Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s absentee ballot, saying she was in Columbia County on Election Day and could have voted at the machines.
Gillibrand issued a quick response criticizing the Republicans’ tactics and renewing her support for Scott Murphy, whom she endorsed during the two-month campaign.