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November 19, 2013

City of Plattsburgh Ward 5 race deadlocked

City Council seat undecided after absentee ballot count

PLATTSBURGH — After absentee ballots were counted on Monday, the race in Ward 5 of the City of Plattsburgh Common Council race was dead even and the final outcome still uncertain.

Republican Bruce Lawson was leading Democrat Becky Kasper by just 4 votes after election night, Nov. 5, but Kasper pulled even after 48 absentee ballots were counted Monday at the Clinton County Board of Elections.

“I guess this is testimony of our democracy in action,” she said.

“You think you got it all figured out, and it can still come up dead even like this.”

Kasper captured 26 absentee ballot votes to 22 for Lawson.

There were three ballots being challenged by Lawson that had not yet been opened on Monday. One of those was contested because it was apparently cast by a poll worker prior to the two-week period before the election allowed by law.

The others apparently featured identifying marks on the outside of the ballot envelopes.

Lawson has three days to decide whether he wants a court to rule on whether the ballots should be opened and counted or thrown out.

“I’m still considering my options,” he said Monday.

OPTIONS IN A TIE

If the race is still tied after the ballots in question are counted, then there are options for picking a winner.

Board of Elections Commissioner Greg Campbell said the state told him that the newly elected council can appoint one of the candidates after the members take office on Jan. 1.

The person appointed would then have to run in a special election in November of next year for the remaining two years of the three-year term.

Mayor-elect James Calnon said Monday night that he was still researching the issue and would confer with City Corporation Counsel John Clute to see what the city’s options are.

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