Absentee, Affidavit, Write-In Count Starts This Morning In Oswego

OSWEGO COUNTY, NY – After a week of work on last week’s election results, the Oswego County Board of Elections will begin counting affidavits, absentee ballots and write-in ballots today. The count is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m.

Election Commissioner Donald Wart explained that the board has had to work through an intricate process to make sure every vote cast is valid.

Last week, the initial canvass results were matched with the re-canvass results to make sure that the numbers reported on election night were the same. The staff then began researching affidavits to make sure that people casting votes were registered, legal voters.

“If people are not in the poll book, they are given affidavit ballots,” he said. “We have to research all of those to make sure they can be counted. We have trays of them to go through.”

Based on the initial canvass, Wart said only one race appears close enough to be overturned by today’s count.

“We will start with the 17th District Legislature seat,” he said. “It was too close to say if that would be change by paper. That will be the first race we count to get a decision.”

Unofficial results on election day showed Daniel Hoefer (D,W) with 33 more votes than incumbent legislator Mary Flett (R,C) for a one-year appointment to the 17th District. Flett was appointed to the chair at the beginning of this year to fill the vacancy created with the passing of her brother, former Democratic legislator Len Ponzi.

In the unofficial totals, Hoefer won 628 votes to Flett’s 595 and Melvin Holliday’s (OI) 116.

After the affidavits and absentees are counted, Wart said the board will go into the write-in ballots.

Though he was not on last week’s ballot, Oswego County Family Court Judge David Roman hosted a write-in campaign against Kimberly Seager, who earned the only place on the ballot during the September Primary. Seager unofficially took 22,116 votes last week.

“I know that there are people who are interested in seeing those results but there is a process that we have to go through,” Wart said. “There can’t be any mistakes and we are under a deadline to get the results certified and in to the state.”

Wart noted that successful write-in campaigns are rare.

“People usually vote for who is on the machine or not at all,” he said.

“Of course you’d like to know how a write in candidate did but there is a process to follow,” Wart added. “Especially with a county-wide write-in during a busy year, it just takes time.”

Wart noted that there are 125 machines county wide. Each of those machines has rolls of paper that will have to be unrolled to look for legitimate write ins.

“If 100 people vote, there is eight or nine feet of paper that will have to be rolled out. You look at it, look at the columns, check where there are write ins in that column and watch for other names,” he explained. “It is not a simple process.”

The election results will remain unofficial until the results are certified by the election commissioners.

“We try to have everything done by the end of November,” Wart said. “We have to have everything done by Dec. 1 or we have problems.”

Wart noted that election day ran fairly smooth this year.

“We had a couple of machines that needed maintenance,” he said. “Overall, I thought things ran very smooth. It went as well as any election we’ve had. We were prepared for it so we were able to nip a lot of problems in the bud.”

Wart noted, too, that while many election inspectors reported high turnout rates, this year was on par with the presidential election four years ago.

“Voter registration in a presidential year is always up,” he said. “I didn’t see this year being much different than it was in 2004.”

On average, Wart said approximately 70 percent of eligible voters turn out in a presidential election year. That number drops to 50 percent in a gubernatorial election year and to 35 percent in a local election year.