The saying, ‘it ain’t over till it’s over’ is an apt summation of the current status of the race for Ulster County District Attorney. On election night the tally was three votes apart with Republican Michael J. Kavanagh at 24,969 and David Clegg at 24,966.
Republican Election Commissioner Thomas F. Turco commented on where the race is at today. He said as of December 3 the total stands at 26,219 for Clegg and 26,174 for Kavanagh with 283 absentee ballots and affidavits that have not been opened.
“The two parties involved have spoken with the Supreme Court Judge assigned to the case [Richard McNally Jr.] and they are working diligently for a meeting in court tomorrow [Dec. 4], which should allow us to open some additional ballots,” Turco said. “I think the Judge is looking for them to refine the challenges and open a few more ballots before actually bringing the whole lot to court.”
Turco said there were a few ballots challenged for, “various reasons, for marks and other things.”
Turco said absentee voting is a three fold process.
“It actually starts with a voter registering to vote and then that voter must apply for the ballot and then when the voter receives the ballot they must seal it and return it in an absentee oath envelope,” he said. “Various questions can come into play if any of the signatures or all the signatures don’t match. It could mean somebody signed the oath envelope for a voter, it could mean somebody signed the application for a voter etc...etc…”
Turco said if and when any of the contested ballots are opened, he and his counterpart, Democratic Commissioner Ashley Dittus, are the ones who open the ballots at the office of the Ulster County Board of Elections in Kingston.
Michael Kavanagh said attorneys for both sides will discuss the challenged ballots and decide which ballots will go before the judge, “for his determination on which ones come in and which ones don’t.” He said he does not know exactly what the lawyers are doing but, “I know to stay in my lane and I don’t get involved. I decided that my presence would probably be detrimental; these guys know what they’re doing, I don’t. I’ll go tomorrow but I’m not making any arguments, nor am I going to ask why they’re making their arguments. I’ll let them do their thing.”
Dave Clegg said tomorrow’s day in court, “will be a start, I don’t know if it will be the finish [but] I think it will be more than one day.”
Clegg said each side has some kind of objection to each of the 283 contested ballots, “and the Judge has to rule on which ballots they will allow to be opened.”
Clegg said the Republican side is challenging about 180 of the ballots and he is challenging half that number, “to not open, to say there is a defect in the way that the affidavit was filled out or the application for the absentee ballot.”
Clegg wants to wait until the process is completed.
“I think we’re in a favorable position but we have to count the votes,” he said.