Bring on the absentees
It's down to the lawyers - and the absentee ballots - in the 46th Senate District.
Heading into the day after Election Day, Delanson Democrat Cecilia Tkaczyk had 58,314 votes and Assemblyman George Amedore, R-Rotterdam, had 58,175. The race will now be decided by absentee and affidavit ballots.
At this point it isn't clear where the absentee votes will come from, as Ulster, Albany and Montgomery counties haven't given me any absentee ballot counts. According to Greene County officials, they sent out 2,022 ballots and received 1,706, as of Monday.
The breakdown from Schenectady County is much more precise, thanks to those lovely people in the county Board of Elections. They sent out 1,079 absentee ballots, with 348 going to Democrats and 399 going to Republicans. As of Election Day, 869 had been returned, with 273 from Democrats and 333 from Republicans. These indicators are good for Amedore, but the ambiguity with the other counties makes it impossible to tell how this counting process will go.
On Election Day, Amedore's strongest area was Montgomery County, which he won 10,178 votes to 5,842 votes. He also won Schenectady County, 10,344 to 7,146, and Greene County, 10,090 to 7,217. The big victory for Tkaczyk was in Ulster County, where Tkaczyk won 22,800 to 14,601. She also won Albany County, 15,309 to 12,962.
A potential area of controversy going forward could be the voting at the University of Albany, which covers part of the district. Some UAlbany voters had trouble casting a normal ballot and were forced to cast affidavit ballots. This area is expected to be a Democratic stronghold, but Tkaczyk campaign spokesman Gary Ginsburg was confident they would win despite the unfortunate situation.
Regarding the prospects of the race coming down to absentee ballots, Ginsburg said they did a good job getting ballots for their supporters.
For their part, Amedore spokesman Kris Thompson said they were confident they would win after all the votes are counted.
In the wake of the narrow lead by Tkaczyk, one of her big monetary backers, Friends of Democracy Co-Founder Jonathan Soros, was ready to call her the victor. His group was one of two outside advocacy groups to sink more than half a million dollars into this race, arguing that Tkaczyk was the right candidate on campaign finance reform.
"Voters clearly rejected a candidate who favored that status quo of New York broken campaign laws," Soros said in a statement. "The clock has run out on a system that allows the very wealthy and corporations to buy influence in the state legislature."
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