More absentee ballots were sent in all eight counties covering the 22nd Congressional District in this past midterm election compared to four years ago. And all those ballots, totaling more than 12,000, as well as affidavit ballots, will need to be counted, as the race between Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-New Hartford) and Democrat Anthony Brindisi, is too close to call. Brindisi leads by just under 1,300 votes. Election commissioners have dealt with some problems and are eager to get the results.
It was a wild Election Night for Broome County Republican Elections Commissioner Oliver Blaise as towards the end of the evening, some polling stations lost power because of the weather, and first responders had to bring in generators.
“And there was even one polling station where we couldn’t get a generator there and I actually went and grabbed my camping lanterns from my house and went to the station," Blaise said. "A couple other folks had gotten flashlights and we had folks voting by camping lanterns and flashlights.”
Broome County also had a problem with the primary computer chip of one of its voting machines when the results didn’t upload. The day after the election, when the problem was fixed, 281 votes for Tenney and 152 votes for Brindisi were added to their totals, narrowing Brindisi’s lead.
Blaise said the voter turnout and number of absentee ballots this year are up significantly.
"We're closer to a presidential year," Blaise said. "Presidential years, we usually see about 75 percent or upwards turnout. We were closer to that, this time around. From the Board of Elections perspective, while it makes more work for us, we couldn't be more pleased because it shows people were out and engaged in our electoral process."
It was close to 60 percent voter turnout in Oneida County, according to Republican Elections Commissioner Rose Grimaldi, which she credited to the Tenney, Brindisi race.
“Two candidates from Oneida County, well-known individuals in the community, one a sitting congresswoman, the other a sitting assemblyman, out there campaigning," Grimaldi said. "They brought the vote out.”
Both Oneida and Broome County, the most populated counties in the district, will start counting absentee and affidavit ballots Wednesday. Military ballots have until Monday the 19th to come in. Grimaldi hopes the final results will be in before Thanksgiving.