© 2023 WRVO Public Media
NPR News for Central New York
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Watertown mayoral primary tie goes to court

Allison Crossman, Cody Horbacz
Allison Crossman and Cody Horbacz tied for second place in Watertown's mayoral primary, an unprecedented situation in the city's history.

When businesswoman Allison Crossman and City Councilor Cody Horbacz tied for second place in the Watertown mayoral primary in June, officials looked to the Jefferson County Board of Elections for what to do after discovering that the city's election law doesn't address what to do in the event of a tie. The issue was that the board's Republican and Democratic commissioners were split on whether two or three candidates could advance to the general election, so they asked for someone to file a lawsuit so that a judge could resolve the matter.

Watertown resident and registered voter Samuel Thomas got that ball rolling and now Crossman has joined his suit in an effort to assure it isn't dismissed.

"So that we can try to get this resolved versus seeing this thrown out and go back to court again," Crossman said. "This way we can just try to get it resolved as efficiently as possible."

Thomas, Crossman, and Horbacz want the judge to certify all three candidates on the ballot. But Horbacz thinks the judge should first order a recount.

"Fifteen of the mayoral ballots were voided," Horbacz said. "I think that is cause enough for a hand recount of all the ballots just to be sure."

Jefferson County Board of Elections Democratic Commissioner Babette Hall says those 15 votes could have been voided for mistakes like marking outside the designated box or scribbing out a vote, which aren't enough to warrant a recount under New York State law. She says recounts are limited to events where there is an irregularity or a malfunction of voting equipment.

The court date is scheduled for August 7.

Payne Horning is a reporter and producer, primarily focusing on the city of Oswego and Oswego County. He has a passion for covering local politics and how it impacts the lives of everyday citizens. Originally from Iowa, Horning moved to Muncie, Indiana to study journalism, telecommunications and political science at Ball State University. While there, he worked as a reporter and substitute host at Indiana Public Radio. He also covered the 2015 session of the Indiana General Assembly for the statewide Indiana Public Broadcasting network.