Democrat Cecilia Tkaczyk took the lead late Monday evening over Republican Assemblyman George Amedore in what appears likely to become a protracted battle for the 46th Senate District.
Assemblyman George Amedore, R-Rotterdam, entered the week ahead by 54 votes, with almost 12,000 potential absentee and affidavit ballots needing to be counted from the district’s five counties. After more than 12 hours of counting paper ballots at the Albany County Board of Elections headquarters on Monday, Tkaczyk had built on her Election Day lead in the county and actually taken a narrow lead in the race with a few election districts left to go.
After 1,625 paper ballots were counted Monday, Amedore had gained 775 votes and Tkaczyk had gained 850 votes. The remaining votes were in Guilderland, where they were likely to trend Democratic and grow Tkaczyk’s hold on the lead.
The partial results Monday reflected the Election Day win that Tkaczyk recorded in Albany County, where she received about 54 percent of the vote.
Today, Greene County will begin counting more than 2,000 paper ballots and Montgomery County will dive into its approximately 1,500 ballots Wednesday. Next week, Schenectady County starts things off with about 1,300 ballots Monday and Ulster County is scheduled to count its more than 4,000 ballots on Tuesday.
Greene, Montgomery and Schenectady counties are all expected to break in favor of Amedore, as he won all of them on Election Day, and paper ballot generally follow machine ballots. Ulster County would then be the final showdown, with Tkaczyk likely needing to make up anywhere between 200 and 1,000 votes, depending on the preceding three counties. On Election Day, Tkaczyk carried Ulster County with roughly three out of five of the 37,400 votes cast.
Spokesmen for both candidates expressed confidence that the paper ballots would ultimately be good news for their team. Each side also said the results Monday were what they expected.
This election was never expected to be this tight when the district was initially carved out during the redistricting process. Added by Senate Republicans as the 63rd seat in the chamber, it was believed that the demographics and overlap with Amedore’s existing Assembly district would give him the edge. Tkaczyk turned it into a race, benefiting from President Barack Obama on the top of the ticket and an infusion of advertisements on her behalf from outside advocacy groups.
It was slow and steady during the vote counting process Monday, which reviewed one municipality at a time for the start of the day. Per a court order issued last week, the counting expanded to two municipalities at a time in the early afternoon so they could finish counting all the votes in one day.
Considering that this race could decide control of the state Senate, the mood was relatively light, with York peppermint candies being passed around in a bipartisan manner at one point.
There were more than 2,200 potential absentee and affidavit ballots to be counted in Albany County. Before Monday’s counting, the Albany County BOE ruled some absentee ballots ineligible if they were postmarked late and invalidated a portion of affidavit ballots for obvious reasons, like the voter not actually being registered. Some voters’ ballots were not counted because they didn’t vote on this race or voted too many times.
A few more than two dozen paper ballots were not counted because one of the attorneys objected to its validity. Most of these ballots are laid aside and acting Montgomery County Supreme Court Judge Guy Tomlinson will eventually rule on whether they should be counted.
In some races, like the Republican primary in the 43rd State Senate District this fall, the ballots that are laid aside aren’t counted in the end, because there aren’t enough to overcome one candidates margin over the other.
In a race this close, though, it is likely that the margin will be less than the number of ballots that get laid aside, so Tomlinson will have to rule.
It is not clear how long that process will take, but it would not start until Nov. 28 at the earliest.
The counting appears to be keeping with Tomlinson’s schedule, which was amended last week by a supplemental order that allowed for counting of paper ballots at multiple tables at once. It also allowed for multiple counties to be counted at once, but that provision has yet to be needed.
Spokesmen for both candidates said they expect a winner to be declared before the start of the legislative session in January.