Almost three weeks after Election Day, Republican Assemblyman George Amedore is close to winning the 46th Senate District.
The race could be decided today with the start of absentee and affidavit ballots in Ulster County, where Democrat Cecilia Tkaczyk needs to overcome an approximately 920-vote lead amassed by Amedore. After Election Day, the race was practically a dead heat, but about 5,700 paper ballots counted last week in Albany, Greene, Montgomery and Schenectady counties broke in favor of Amedore.
Now about 122,000 votes have been counted from the district, but Tkaczyk’s final hopes of victory depend on about 3,360 absentee and 1,100 affidavit ballots in Ulster County. Acting Montgomery County Supreme Court Judge Guy Tomlinson, who is overseeing this race, has allocated today and Tuesday for ballots to be counted in Ulster County.
Ulster County was a strong performer for Tkaczyk on Election Day, when she won almost 61 percent of the 37,401 votes cast.
But the paper ballots counted so far in the race haven’t been identical to the Election Day results, except in Greene County, where it was nearly the same. In Albany, Montgomery and Schenectady counties, though, Amedore did better with the paper ballots than he did with the Election Day votes.
The conventional wisdom is that Tkaczyk’s late momentum in the race, which was driven by an influx of campaign spending on her behalf in the end of October, came after some absentee voters had already cast their ballots.
Also working against Tkaczyk is the fact that many of the paper ballots in Ulster County will not be counted. A portion of the absentee and affidavit ballots will be deemed ineligible by the Ulster County Board of Elections, which has been researching these votes for at least a week to determine if they’re valid votes.
Additionally, lawyers for each candidate will object to ballots and they will be laid aside for Tomlinson to determine their validity. He will only have to rule if the number of cast-aside ballots is greater than the margin after Ulster County is counted.
Tkaczyk would have to net more than 921 votes to make up her vote lag. To do that, an unusually high number of the paper ballots need to be counted and she needs to do as well as she did on Election Day or better.
Based on the speed of counting votes in the other counties and the paper ballots left, it is likely Ulster County won’t be finished until Tuesday.