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No slowing Senate count

By Lombardo David
Friday, November 16, 2012

A move to slow the counting of paper ballots in the 46th state Senate District was rejected Friday afternoon by the judge overseeing the process.

Acting Montgomery County Supreme Court Judge Guy Tomlinson reiterated his order from earlier in the week, which requires paper ballots be counted in multiple counties at multiple tables, if necessary. There are almost 12,000 paper ballots that need to be counted, with about 9,200 possibly absentee ballots and 2,600 affidavit ballots.

These paper ballots will decide whether Republican Assemblyman George Amedore's new, 54-vote lead will hold over Democrat Cecilia Tkaczyk.



During the conference call, Tkaczyk attorney Frank Hoare stressed his willingness to move speedily through the paper ballot-counting process. He commended the five county boards of elections in the district for quickly churning out copies of information relating to the absentee and affidavit ballots.

“I think we should move forward and get this done,” Hoare said.

Amedore attorney David Lewis, who opposed the amended counting procedures and schedule, questioned Hoare's rosey outlook.

“I think your honor might want to rethink the supplemental order,” Lewis said.

For good measure, he added a quote from Ben Franklin, who noted that haste makes waste.

Lewis also came armed with the argument that speed isn't a factor in this process, highlighting a 2010 Long Island state Senate race have took until January to decide. Tomlinson rejected this line of thought on the basis that the paper ballots need to be opened in this race simply to allow other races to certify their results.

“I don't want to do anything that holds up the other [certifications],” Tomlinson said later in the phone call.

Responding to a complaint from Lewis that he hasn't received the necessary paperwork from Ulster County, Ulster County Board of Elections Republican Commissioner Tom Turco assured him everything would be there by Tuesday. That would give Lewis and his team a week to review the documents.

“Ulster is well prepared to handle your needs,” Turco said.

Then pursuing a different delay tactic, Lewis highlighted the fact that he doesn't have enough lawyers to staff multiple tables or multiple counties counting votes at once. In response to the renewed push for counting at one table, Albany County Board of Elections Republican Commissioner Rachel L. Bledi said they couldn't finish counting their paper ballots at one table in one day, even if they went until midnight.

Albany County Board of Elections Democratic Commissioner Matthew Clyne added that he didn't envision them finishing in one day and said the need for multiple tables would present itself early in the day Monday, when they're set to begin counting paper ballots. Greene County starts the next day and Montgomery County the day after that, with Schenectady and Ulster counties starting the next week.

Before the call was over, Lewis expressed hope that no one would do anything that appeared to slow the process. He then echoed his reservations about the sped-up process with his limited staffing resources, saying, “I just have limits, as a human.”

“I promise not to watch both football games on Thanksgiving,” he added.

During the phone call, all the counties provided updated totals on paper ballots they've collected. Some of the totals included estimates on how many absentee and affidavit ballots they've collected that are eligible to be counted.



The number of eligible absentee ballots was not determined for Greene, Montgomery and Ulster counties, and the number of eligible affidavit ballots was not determined for Greene, Schenectady and Ulster counties.

The number of valid paper ballots will definitely decrease when attorneys for the two candidates get to start objecting.

Then, because I have no life, I extrapolated the outcome of the election based on the potentially eligible paper ballots. In order to determine how these votes would break, I used the results from Election Day.



This process is flawed on multiple fronts, but they may cancel each other out to give a reasonable view of what might happen.

First of all, it doesn't take into account that more paper ballots will be deemed ineligible by the county boards of elections and the lawyers will get some ballots tossed out. Also, it doesn't take into account the fact that Tkaczyk gained momentum late in the race, so Amedore probably did better among early absentee voters. Third, because of her momentum and the presence of President Barack Obama on the ballot, Tkaczyk probably did better on the affidavit ballots.

The second and third problems might end up canceling each other out, which would result in Tkaczyk narrowly winning the race.

Oh yeah, this math also doesn't take into account the partisan affiliation of voters. But it was still fun to use the calculator on my computer.

Follow @GazettePolitics on Twitter for updates on this race and follow @poozer87 on Twitter for a steady stream of consciousness about this race.

 
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