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Onondaga, Cayuga counties delay absentee ballot count after court challenge

Ellen Abbott
WRVO News (file photo)

Onondaga and Cayuga counties are delaying the start of counting absentee ballots until Tuesday. This comes after a court challenge by Republican state Senate candidate Angi Renna’s campaign.

Onondaga County Democratic Elections Commissioner Dustin Czarny said Renna’s campaign wanted an onerous amount of documents, hundreds of thousands of pages, which would have prevented the Board of Elections from opening absentee ballots for one or two weeks. Through a negotiated agreement, Czarny said Renna’s campaign will be given access to physically review the documents, like signatures and absentee ballot applications.

“We’ve delayed the starting of the canvass by one day, to Tuesday, to give everybody an opportunity to review whatever they looked at and come up with whatever they need,” Czarny said. “To be quite honest, what they requested was so broad and undefined, I’m not really sure what they were looking for, any more than just a delay in the process altogether. We were very adamant that we do not want a delay. The judge was very adamant that nobody should delay. Everybody wants to get these counts in so we know who the winners of our races are.”

When counting does start, there will be 20 teams of bipartisan workers, spread throughout the Board of Elections facility. Those teams take absentee ballots, review them, show them to the campaigns and feed the ballots into a high-speed scanner. Onondaga County has about 58,000 absentee ballots. Czarny said they hope to get 7,000-10,000 ballots counted each day.

“It really depends on how slow the tables go with any objections that come our way,” Czarny said.

Unofficial results will be posted daily on the county’s Board of Elections website. The final results need to be certified by November 28.

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.