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Board of Elections to begin counting absentee ballots

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The Jefferson County Board of Elections will begin counting the 3,216 absentee ballots for all 2012 political races today.

Election results remain unofficial until all ballots, including absentees, have been counted and a variety of certification measures have been completed. Democratic Election Commissioner Babette M. Hall, who works closely with Republican counterpart Jerry O. Eaton, estimated the Board of Elections will be ready to declare the official results by the month’s end.

This year, absentee ballots had to be postmarked on or before Nov. 5, the day before the general election. An absentee ballot may be disqualified if it is mailed after that date or does not bear the voter’s signature. To be counted, absentee ballots must be received by Monday.

In addition to counting the absentee ballots, 3 percent of the county’s voting machines must be audited. Mr. Eaton reported that as of Wednesday afternoon, 2 percent of the county’s machines had been tested, with all passing.

The election cycle saw a hotly contested race between Rep. William L. Owens, D-Plattsburgh, and Republican Matthew A. Doheny of Watertown for the 21st Congressional District.

According to the unofficial results, Mr. Owens carried the district 50 percent to 48 percent. In Jefferson County, however, Mr. Doheny won 51 percent to 48 percent. Districtwide, Mr. Doheny trailed Mr. Owens by 4,713 votes on Election Day.

Spread out among the district’s 12 counties are an estimated 20,000 absentee ballots that have yet to be counted.

Mr. Doheny, who conceded the race on election night, has an outside chance of reversing the result if he secures 60 percent of the 20,000 absentee ballots. However, Mr. Eaton, who is also the president of the Statewide Election Commissioners Association, said that outcome is not likely, noting, “Usually absentees trend the same as election night.”

This year in Cape Vincent, the races for village trustee and Town Council are close. The second- and third-place candidates for trustee, Douglas Putnam and Jeffrey Call, are separated by only one vote. That race is certain to be decided by absentee ballots.

The two Town Council candidates are separated by 91 votes. Paul Aubertine is leading with 562 votes to Michelle T. Oswald’s 471. There are 339 absentee ballots from the town and the village that have yet to be counted.

And the election in Jefferson County was touched by the chaos Superstorm Sandy caused.

“We have 18 displaced voters in the county from New York City and the Bronx and Suffolk County,” Ms. Hall said. “We have 18 affidavits that we are sending on to those counties.”

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