About 100 ballots in legal limbo could decide the last undetermined race in the 4th Judicial District of state Supreme Court.
On Election Day four full-term seats were up for grabs, with the final seat too close to call between Montgomery County Court Judge Felix Catena and Franklin County Family Court magistrate John Ellis. The other three seats were won by sitting Supreme Court Judge Joseph Sise, Schenectady Family Court Judge Christine Clark and Rotterdam attorney Thomas Buchanan.
Around 280,000 votes have been counted for the two candidates and Catena has a narrow lead. Things could change, though, as Saratoga County has not reported its absentee and affidavit vote totals and some paper ballots can’t be dealt with because they’re tied in with the contentious 46th Senate District count.
“It’s a very, very tight race,” said James Walsh, an attorney for Catena.
Earlier this week, it looked like the race might have ended when incorrect vote totals were reported from Fulton County and Ellis appeared to have taken a clear lead. That error has been rectified and the race will come down to three of the 11 counties in the district.
Saratoga County netted Ellis more votes on Election Day than Catena and the paper ballots are expected to break for Ellis too, but it’s not clear to what degree.
The Saratoga County Board of Elections could not be reached Friday for comment for this story.
If Ellis is able to take a lead with the Saratoga County paper ballots, which have already been opened, Catena’s chances would rest in Schenectady and Montgomery counties, where 74 and 26 paper ballots have yet to be counted, respectively. These ballots are contested in the 46th Senate District, so they have yet to be opened and it’s not clear when or if they’ll be counted in that race.
The elected justices serve 14-year terms.
The unsuccessful candidates were three Democrats: Mark Powers, a Schenectady County Family Court Judge; Jeffrey Wait, a Saratoga Springs City Court judge, and John Silvestri, an attorney from Chestertown.
The 4th Judicial District includes Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Fulton, Hamilton, Montgomery, Saratoga, Schenectady, St. Lawrence, Warren and Washington counties.