Central New York, Government, Politics

Why Absentee Ballots Have Yet to be Counted in Democratic Primary Races

Absentee Ballot Script

By Charlie DiSturco SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) — The New York state Democratic primaries might have happened six days ago, and while Andrew Cuomo kept his title as governor, other races have yet to be decided.

That’s because of absentee ballots, which are mailed in by residents that can’t attend election day. The Onondaga County Board of Elections is just one of the locations across the state that collect and count these votes.

“It’s an intensive process, it’s the bipartisan process,” Dustin Czarny, the Democratic Commissioner of the Onondaga County Board of Elections, said. “So we need at least a week to go through that, get everything in, make sure all the good absentees are being counted before we declare a winner in the election.”

For absentee ballots to count, they must be postmarked one day prior to the election. After collecting Thursday morning’s mail, the process will start as ballots are counted by a bipartisan staff.

There will be more absentee ballots than normal, as voter turnout altogether saw a huge jump this year as 25 percent of residents cast their vote in the governor’s primary, Czarny said.

It’s nearly triple last governor’s primary total of 8.6 percent, he added. Because of the added turnout, there are multiple races that could be decided from absentee ballots.

Dave Valesky will need to accrue 83 percent of absentee votes to overcome Rachel May in the state senate race. The City Court judge race and battle for Oswego County sheriff are also down to the wire.

“Seeing races switch from one person ahead on election night go to the other,” Czarny said. “It gets much harder when there’s a wider margin as opposed to a smaller margin like the city court judge race. There’s only 19 votes there and in the state senate, there’s 600.”

All of these races will be officially over after the Onondaga County Board of Election’s bipartisan staff counts the ballots — which starts at 10 a.m. on Thursday.

Czarny said that those in close races are allowed to watch the opening of these absentee ballots. And while only time will tell, a surprise turnaround would not be shocking.

“This has been a weird election year so far, anything can happen,” Czarny said.