We’re now into the fifth day of absentee ballot counting in the NY 20th Congressional District race between Jim Tedisco and Scott Murphy, but the end is still nowhere in sight. After the re-canvass left the election effectively in a tie, officials began opening up and counting the thousands of write-in votes which will decide the outcome. The news might be construed as hopeful for Murphy thus far.
Murphy took the lead Friday morning after more than 1,400 of 6,700 absentee ballots were counted and added to the totals. Tedisco led the race by 24 votes Thursday, but the absentee votes have now tilted the race in Murphy’s favor.
Murphy’s lead was reduced from 46 to 35 Friday afternoon, when a handful of absentees were added to the total, bringing the total absentees counted to more than 1,500.
However these totals, as the article points out, do not include the ballots from Saratoga County. This is the group with the largest number of ballots to count and Tedisco performed very well there on election day. Saratoga officials are refusing to release any preliminary numbers, preferring to wait until all the votes are counted and certified.
In our earlier coverage of the special election, we pointed you to Jennifer Rubin’s analysis of the absentee ballot spread and the numerical advantage held by registered Republicans. However, the returns thus far seem to bear out my suspicions that the final total isn’t likely to swing wildly to either side. More ballots were requested by registered Republicans, but as in previous recent elections in the district, a significant number of registered Republicans are voting for the Democrat.
When more than 130,000 votes are cast and you find yourself watching a shifting lead of a few dozen votes, the election was a tie. Even if this one doesn’t get thrown to the courts for a decision, the eventual winner will be looking at a tough slog next November barring a significant shift in the electorate.