The count continues in the race for Ulster County district attorney, with the process now under the supervision of state Supreme Court Justice Richard McNally.
Last week, election officials completed their count of absentee and affidavit ballots, leaving Democrat Dave Clegg with a 45-vote lead over Republican Mike Kavanagh. On Wednesday, Dec. 4, both sides appeared in court to begin the process of counting or dismissing 289 ballots that have been subject to challenges.
According to Republican Election Commissioner Tom Turco, the first day in court ended with nine ballots accepted by both sides, validated by the judge and added to the count. Of those, five went to Kavanagh and four to Clegg, cutting the Democrat’s lead to 44.
According to Turco, McNally advised both sides to go through the remaining challenged ballots and categorize the objections — for example, if it is an affidavit ballot issue, or incorrect markings on the envelope of an absentee, or other perceived irregularities. The two sides are due back in court on Friday, Dec. 6 when McNally is expected to rule on how to proceed with the remaining challenges. “Friday will be a big day to see where this is all going,” said Turco.
If the final vote count remains close, it could trigger a county law that would force election officials to go back and recount every ballot cast in the election. Under the 2011 law, the mandatory recount is triggered anytime the unofficial count ends with a margin of victory less than two-tenths of 1 percent in any race where 3,000 or more ballots were cast. Some 55,000 Ulster County voters participated in the Clegg-Kavanagh contest.