Vote recount yields no significant errors (NY)
Absentee ballots will decide results Thursday
pressconnects.com. November 10, 2009.By Doug Schneider
BINGHAMTON Elections workers spent Tuesday counting and re-counting thousands of ballots from some of the region's closest elections, but still have hours of work to do before they confirm the totals recorded Nov. 3 in Binghamton and Johnson City.
Bottom line: Votes for Binghamton mayor, Johnson City trustee and the potential dissolution of Johnson City aren't yet resolved.
The counts are slated to resume at 10 a.m. today as the Broome County Board of Elections works to ensure that votes were counted accurately on the new electronic scanners used at county polling places on Nov. 3. Elections officials from the Democratic and Republican parties repeatedly said Tuesday that they believe the new machines are accurate, and that the hand count eventually will verify that claim.
"My side, and the other side, are confident that these machines worked, and worked right," said Eugene Faughnan, the Republican elections commissioner.
Still, key races in both communities and one for a Vestal Town Board seat aren't likely to be decided before Thursday at the earliest. That's when hundreds of absentee ballots will be opened and counted.
In Johnson City, totals from Tuesday's hand count don't exactly match totals taken from voting machines in about half the village's election districts, meaning ballots from those districts will again be counted by hand. In Binghamton, workers were not able to complete the hand count in two of the 46 voting districts.
Johnson City residents voted 2,139-2,138 Nov. 3 not to dissolve the village and have it become part of the Town of Union. Votes counted so far have not changed that one-vote margin, said John Perticone, the Democratic elections commissioner.
A race for two village trustee seats also remains close enough that it won't be decided until more than 170 Johnson City absentee ballots are counted on Thursday.
In Binghamton, the race for mayor has Democratic incumbent Matthew T. Ryan leading Republican challenger Richard David by 56 votes out of more than 9,500 cast on Election Day.
Tuesday saw elections workers count ballots in pairs, one worker representing each major party. They were observed by the elections commissioners and their deputies, as well as members of the public and a handful of political candidates.
People observing the counts were allowed to challenge ballots that appeared to have been improperly marked, such as one instance where a voter had written a statement on the ballot.
Commissioners agreed to reject a handful of Johnson City ballots where such challenges were raised, Perticone said. He said officials also allowed votes to count in a handful of cases where the machines had rejected them on Election Night, but could not say Tuesday evening exactly how many changes the commissioners had approved.
Why hand-count ballots recorded on machines that were billed as being extremely accurate? Because New York was not able before the election to "certify" the machines as accurate, Perticone said. State and federal elections officials agreed that a hand count would be done in any race where the election margin was 1 percent or less.
Such a hand count would not have been necessary had the county been able to use its old lever-style voting machines, elections officials said.