By JOE LoTEMPLIO Press-Republican
---- — PLATTSBURGH — More than 1,100 absentee ballots remain to be counted in Clinton County, which could affect the outcome of some races.
County Board of Elections Republican Commissioner Greg Campbell said that 1,133 absentee ballots had been received as of Wednesday, the day after the election.
The board can accept ballots up until a week after Election Day, if they are postmarked by Nov. 5.
“We might get a few more this week that are postmarked on Election Day but probably won’t get too many,” Campbell said.
The board is also busy collecting affidavit ballots from the voting machines at each district in the county.
Affidavits are given to voters who show up at the polls if there is discrepancy as to their registration.
“They might have moved and not realized where they were supposed to vote, so we give them an affidavit ballot and send them to the place they are supposed to be,” Campbell explained.
He did not know Wednesday how many affidavit ballots remain to be counted.
AWAITING MILITARY VOTES
Also, the board has until 13 days after the election to receive military ballots that are postmarked by Election Day. There were 45 military ballots issued, and only 12 had been received as of Wednesday, Campbell said.
Because of the longer deadline for military ballots, Campbell and Democratic Commissioner Susan Castine have decided to wait to open all ballots on Monday, Nov. 18.
“We want to do it all at once so we don’t have to do a count and then do another one when the military deadline hits,” Campbell said.
“It might take a day or two, but we will get it all done at once.”
Castine said the number of absentee ballots countywide was about normal.
“We didn’t have to order any more than usual this year,” she said.
The closest race appears to be in Ward 5 of the City of Plattsburgh Common Council. Republican Bruce Lawson leads Democrat Becky Kasper by just 4 votes.
There were 39 absentee ballots to be counted in that district as of Wednesday, Campbell said.
Lawson was not declaring victory, and Kasper was not conceding.
Overall in the city, 366 absentee ballots were received as of Wednesday.
In the mayoral race, Republican candidate James Calnon leads independent candidate Chris Rosenquest by 444 votes.
“It may seem clinched, but (it’s) not official,” Calnon said.
BUDGET PLANNING ON TAP
Calnon, the councilor from Ward 4 and the city’s budget officer as mayor pro tem, said the council will get to work next week on budget planning for 2014.
“The plan all along has been to incorporate the councilors-elect into the process and get them involved,” he said.
The new councilors will vote on the budget plan after they take office on Jan. 1, 2014.
“I am looking forward to it,” Calnon said.
“I think we are going to see some good stuff that is going to happen.”
BALLOTS UNDER SCRUTINY
In the Ward 2 race, Democrat Michael Kelly leads Republican Michael Drew by 20 votes. There are 32 absentees to be counted in that race.
Drew said on election night that it would be hard to overcome that margin with the absentees, even though hope remained.
In Area 8 of the Clinton County Legislature race, Republican incumbent Mark Dame leads Democrat Robert Dolan by 192 votes. There are 223 absentees in that race so far.
The absentee ballots in that contest came under scrutiny, as Dame and other Republicans charged that some of them may have been inappropriately filled out at the behest of Working Family Party supporters.
Working Family Party officials have denied any wrongdoing.
All candidates have the right to challenge absentee and affidavit ballots when they are opened.
“I think it will tighten somewhat with what went on,” Dame said.
“We are researching the process for protesting ballots that we might think are invalid.”
Campbell said that if there are many challenges, it could be a while before the election results are made official and certified.
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