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Lost Voting Machine In 60th Senate Race?

11:38 PM, Nov 19, 2010   |    comments
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BUFFALO, N.Y. -- State Democrats accuse Erie County of losing a voting machine from the November 2nd election, casting doubt on the results in the heated 60th District State Senate race.

In a news release, the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee said, "the sudden and inexplicable appearance of new machines three weeks after Election Day... compromised this process."

2 On Your Side took those concerns to the Erie County Board of Elections, which called the claims baseless and factually incorrect.

"Well there certainly aren't any new voting machines," Ralph Mohr, Republican elections commissioner, said. "Those voting machines were present on Election Day, and they were returned to the warehouse with the other voting machines that were utilized in the election."

Mohr's Democratic counterpart Dennis Ward agreed that there are no new machines.

They explained that on Election Day, two voting machines in two separate districts malfunctioned. As a result, replacement machines were delivered.

At one district, workers correctly added together the ballots in the broken machine and the replacement and reported the total to the Board of Elections; however, in the other district, a worker only reported the ballot total in the replacement machine. That left the ballots in the replacement machine uncounted.

Mohr and Ward said that mistake was discovered Thursday during the recanvass. The uncounted ballots were then included in the total.

Still, attorneys for Antoine Thompson, the incumbant state senator currently trailing in the recount, said this calls into the question the entire recount.

"There clearly was a machine that they found and got overlooked for the last two and a half or three weeks," Attorney Martin Connor said.

In the news release, Democrats went on to say, "the sudden emergence of new voting machines is not all: the technology used to produce and record voting results continues to malfunction; efforts by the private software manufacturer to fix the machines occurred behind closed doors with no oversight; and many functioning machines are producing different figures today than was reported on election night. The utter failure of these voting machines warrants significant scrutiny from election officials and the public."

Mohr stood by the Board of Election's recount and the electronic machines, pointing out their random hand-count sample showed the machines in eight districts were 100 percent correct in their tabulations.

"We're going through methodically, counting every ballot that's case," Mohr said.

Friday, commissioners were expected to finish their rulings on disputed absentee ballots. That leaves only the 1,800 or so affidavit ballots, which will be counted starting Monday morning. Mohr expected to have that finished within a few days, giving a clear picture on the winner by the end of next week; however, Democrats have threatened lawsuits due to their alleged irregularities.

"Do you think a hand recount is needed," 2 On Your Side's Michael Wooten asked Thompson's attorney. "At this time, I can't answer that," Connor replied. "We're still making an investigation."

As of Friday morning, Grisanti had a lead of around 850 votes; however, his campaign says that lead had increased to 951 votes by Friday night. Election officials were unavailable to confirm those totals.

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