Impounded votes leave counties waiting on Albany

Votes in New York's Third Judicial District have been impounded by a judge in advance of a recanvass. Photo:

You may have heard about a flap involving votes from the New York State Third Judicial District election that were ordered by a judge on Monday to be impounded until auditors and representatives from each judge's campaign can be present for an official recount.  

Unofficial tallies from election night have essentially ensured a comfortable lead and win for Democratic and Independence candidate Thomas Breslin to get the first chair, but the vote count margin between Republican, Conservative, and Working Families candidate Catherine Cholakis and Democratic, Independence, and Working Families candidate Raymond Elliot is extremely small, so both sought and secured the option for a recanvass.

“The court case,” said NYS Board of Elections Director of Public Information John Conklin on Tuesday, “was initiated by both Cholakis and Elliot together.”

The Third Judicial District covers seven counties: Albany, Columbia, Greene, Rensselaer, Schoharie, Sullivan and Ulster.  What you may not have heard about this story is that, at the county level, some counting has had to be suspended until the counts can begin in "an organized fashion."

Conklin said because certain local races may also be awaiting a recount by local boards, those races are given priority “count first” status when that given election district’s time on the schedule is reached. 

This is affecting the absentee ballot tallying in the counties that lie within the Third Judicial District boundaries. An official with the Greene County board of elections stated in a phone call earlier that, should a judge lift the impound order this afternoon, the earliest the agency could begin counting absentee votes would be Tuesday, November 23, after all judicial votes have been tallied.  

November 23 seems to be an important date for these absentee vote counts around the region. With question marks hanging above many contested or close races, Sullivan County elections officials have told the Watershed Post that they will start their count most likely on November 23, as well, depending on when state officials settle the Third Judicial District question.

Delaware County, which is in the Sixth Judicial District, said in a phone call today that the county has completed its absentee ballot count and is now tallying the results.

A very busy odd-year election. Stay tuned.