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Sun., Oct. 4
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Incumbents in Cape Vincent face a big climb


While Cape Vincent residents await final certification of election results pending a final count of absentee ballots, the incumbents, all of whom are aligned with the forces against wind power, are facing numbers that should cause them concern.

With 245 absentee ballots received, history indicates that Supervisor Urban C. Hirschey has a chance to erase the 75-vote deficit he faces from election day. It would take a gain of 144 votes for him to prevail over election-night leader Alan N. Wood, if all 245 ballots are certified as legitimate — and the pro-wind forces have been busy challenging ballots.

Mr. Hirschey would have to take 64 percent of the absentees if no challenges are upheld, but his percentage required to win would increase as the number of ballots drops. For example, with 175 absentees, Mr. Hirschey would need 126 votes to win, or 72 percent of the allowed votes.

In 2011, he was leading comfortably when election night was done and piled on an additional 370 absentee votes out of 424 cast for the position, giving him 87 percent of the absentees.

However, the 2009 results may be more reflective of 2013. That year, incumbent Thomas K. Rienbeck led 532-490 after election night, but Mr. Hirschey picked up 144 of 226 absentees to win by a scant 20 votes. That represented 64 percent of the absentees cast.

Mr. Wood said Thursday that he is confident the race won’t be swung by absentees, in part because he and his supporters have been diligent in challenging absentees. The group has focused on those probably sent by vacation-property owners on the lake and river shores.

For example, one that his supporters challenged was from an owner of a vacant lot on Carleton Island.

“How can that be anyone’s residence?” he said.

Others were challenged on other bases, including one sent from Toronto.

Mr. Wood said that in his view, Mr. Hirschey had “no legitimate chance of winning. I emphasize legitimate.”

“I think it’s absurd that you have to show identification to rent a hotel room, but you can vote just on your say-so that you live somewhere,” Mr. Wood said.

Mr. Hirschey did not return a call for comments.

In the Town Council race, the anti-wind group faces an even steeper challenge. Challengers Paul F. Aubertine and Dennis W. Pearson hold substantial leads over incumbents Brooks J. Bragdon and Michelle T. Oswald.

Mr. Aubertine’s lead seems almost unassailable; his 542 votes lead Mr. Bragdon by 140 and Ms. Oswald by 156. For Mr. Bragdon to overtake Mr. Aubertine, he would have to receive 193 of 245 potential votes — or 79 percent. To overtake Mr. Pearson, the climb would be less steep. Mr. Bragdon would have to outpoll him 70 percent to 30 percent to prevail.

There are many possible permutations of vote totals that could change the council race because voters will select two of four candidates. But for both Mr. Bragdon and Ms. Oswald to return to the board, it would take nearly 200 votes for each of them out of the 245 absentees, if all are certified.

As the number of allowed absentee ballots drops, the climb gets harder for the incumbents.

In 2009, when there were 226 absentees counted, no council seat results were changed even though anti-wind candidates outpolled pro-wind opponents nearly two to one. In 2011, when there were 424 absentees counted, anti-wind candidates held substantial leads after the Tuesday night count and added to them by a nearly 5-to-1 ratio.

A similar result this year could reverse one result but would be unlikely to send both anti-wind incumbents back to the board.

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