Robust early voting provided Ulster County Democrats an insurmountable head start in the presidential race this Tuesday, according to statistics from the local Board of Elections in Kingston. Heavy voting on Election Day confirmed the record turnout. With a Democratic enrollment at 51,710 as contrasted with 28,793 Republicans and 29,679 not enrolled in any party, the Democrats were heavily favored in the first New York State national election with early voting.
The only question was whether Joe Biden’s plurality over Donald Trump would exceed Hillary Clinton’s 7000-vote margin in Ulster County over Trump in the 2016 national election. With the new early-voting regimen, that was a rhetorical question. Of course he would. This was not the year when a GOP-led undertow based on gubernatorial mismanagement, abandonment of law and order, and misguided bail reform was going to pay big dividends.
According to the state elections website, Biden’s final margin over Trump in Ulster County was 14,500 The GOP had held its own. Of the Democrats eligible to vote in Ulster County, roughly a third, or 17,440, voted early. That compared to 4473 Republicans, barely 15 percent of their total. At 17.5 percent, the 7766 early voters not affiliated with either major political party were closer in early-voting patterns to the GOP than the Democrats.
But the once-crucial non-major vote is now less significant in the overall picture than it used to be. Those eligible to vote who hadn’t going into Election Day consisted roughly of 34,000 Democrats, 24,000 Republicans and 38,000 non-major-party enrollees (including adherents of the state’s minor parties). To blunt the Democratic edge of 10,000 on Election Day, their opponents needed two-to-one support among the non-enrolled. Given the situation on the presidential race, that proved too hard a sell. But they came very close. According to the state elections website on Election Night, Biden’s final margin over Trump in Ulster County was 14,500.
Rhinebeck congressman Antonio Delgado held his seat by 11,000, perhaps only because of Republican opponent Kyle Van De Water’s failure to secure the Conservative and Independence lines. For state senate seats, local favorites incumbent Jan Metzger and Michelle Hinchey were upended by Mike Martucci and Rich Amedure respectively despite very strong Ulster County support. Even perennial assemblymember Kevin Cahill had to be satisfied with a two-to-one win over unknown Rex Bridges.
What had sort of worked in Ulster County didn’t work elsewhere, moreover, as predictions of an early national election result evaporated. Nationally, the Republicans more than held their own in many sections of the country, and in the late hours of Tuesday no definitive result was yet on the horizon in the presidential race.
Too close to call in Woodstock
Woodstock Library officials will need to wait for absentee ballots to find out if voters approved a $5.8 million bond for a new 12,500-square-foot library.
Election night results show the bond down 78 votes and too close to call with 1581 Yes and 1659 No. The tally includes early voting results.
“We want to thank everyone who voted in this record turnout,” library board president Dorothea Marcus said. “We anxiously await the final tally after the absentee ballots are counted next week.”
The library is counting on 908 absentee ballots received as of November 3. A vast majority of those, 682 are from Democrats.
Canvassing of absentee ballots begins next week. Those sent in the mail must be postmark November 3 and received November 10.
New Paltz supports open space
New Paltz voters came out in support of open space. At press time, 72 percent of the ballots cast voted in favor of the Community Preservation Fund 3,648-1,408. There are still more than 1,200 absentee ballots to count, but not enough to change the support of Local Law #1, which is aimed at serving as a financial mechanism to protect and preserve “water quality, working farms, wildlife habitat and natural areas.”
The referendum will require new property owners to pay a one-time 1.5 percent real-estate transfer tax towards the community’s land preservation fund with a $245,000 exemption, the median home value in Ulster County.
Town supervisor Neil Bettez was thrilled at the unofficial numbers which had the referendum passing by over 70%. “I hope that percentage holds up when the absentee ballots are counted, but these numbers are already beyond my expectations. I think this shows how much our residents value land preservation and open space and honestly I believe that this is the most important thing New Paltz has done in decades. It also paves the way for neighboring communities to do the same thing. It’s a sustainable way of funding open space preservation without raising taxes.”
Deputy supervisor Dan Torres concurred. “The campaign leveled against our local referendum (by the New York State Association of Realtors) was the most expensive campaign against a referendum in the history of New Paltz and Ulster County. They spent $150,000 to spread disinformation to our residents about this referendum — that’s more than the entire DA (district attorney’s) race!”
Rhett Weires, a native New Paltzian, also officially won the seat on the New Paltz Town Court handedly as he was running on the Democratic line unopposed. The local lawyer was appointed by the town to fill the vacancy left by former town justice Jonathon Katz in 2019. He has now secured the gavel for a four-year term alongside town justice James Bacon.
Judge Claudia Andreassen wins in Saugerties
Claudia Andreassen, running for her third term as Saugerties Town Justice, won handily on Election Day, with a total of 2,796 votes — 63 percent of the total — to Stan O’Dell’s 1,447, or 32.8 percent. The results were unofficial as of press time.
Andreassen received 2,487 votes on the Democratic line and 309 on the Green Party line. O’Dell received 980 votes on the Working Families line, 445 on the Independence Party line and 22 on the SAM Party line.
A third candidate, Jay Carr, received 158 votes on the Libertarian Party line.
— Geddy Sveikauskas, Nick Henderson, Erin Quinn and David Gordon