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Court to hear appeal of ballot count in Malta supervisor race

Monday, December 9, 2013
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— The dispute over whether to count two ballots that will decide the outcome of the Malta town supervisor’s race will be heard by an appeals court in Albany on Dec. 16.

The Third Department Appellate Division Court will hear arguments that day in Democratic candidate Cynthia Young’s effort to have two votes for her that have been invalidated instead be counted — enough to give her a one-vote upset victory over incumbent Republican Paul Sausville.

State Supreme Court Judge Robert Chauvin in Ballston Spa on Nov. 21 threw out two absentee votes for Young because the voters had written on the back of the ballots, where the state propositions appeared, in violation of a section of state election law.

Young’s attorney has argued that the votes should be counted, because the ballots were clearly marked as votes for Young.

“I was encouraged by literally hundreds of supporters to pursue this,” Young said of the appeal.

As matters stand, incumbent Sausville has a one-vote victory in the race.

The four-term incumbent is in line to chair the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors in 2014 if his victory stands.

Voting machine returns on election night put Young ahead by 13 votes, but her lead shrank to four votes when nearly 90 absentee ballots were opened and counted the following week. Eventually, 21 of 23 disputed ballots were counted, at which point Sausville took his first lead in the race, 1,582 to 1,581.

On the two contested ballots, the words “no vote” were written near one of the ballot propositions; one voter also wrote lettering next to the comment.

Republicans maintain that those markings should invalidate the entire ballot as a matter of law.

Kathleen O’Keefe, a Greene County lawyer representing Young, argued that a similar voter error, if made at a polling place, could be corrected, so voters casting their ballots by mail weren’t receiving the equal protection of the law.

 
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