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Absentee ballots could determine races in Broome, Tompkins counties

Vaughn Golden

With several races still too close to call, the boards of elections in Tompkins and Broome counties will finish counting absentee and affidavit ballots and certify election results this week.

After results are certified, automatic recounts could be triggered under New York state law if the margin of victory is narrow enough. In New York, that means winning by either 20 votes or less, 0.5% of the vote or less, or less than 5,000 votes in a race where one million or more ballots are cast.

Binghamton city judge and two city council races are close

After last week’s election, several races in Broome County are still too close to call. The Broome County Board of Elections will count the remaining absentee and affidavit ballots starting Tuesday morning. The board of elections says it issued around 3,500 mail-in ballots.

In Binghamton, three races are currently close enough to be potentially impacted by absentee ballots or affidavits.

In the race for the city’s 6th District council seat, incumbent Republican Council Member Phillip Strawn leads Democrat Rebecca Rathmell by just seven votes. In the 7th District, incumbent Republican Council Member Thomas Scanlon is winning against Democrat Michael Dundon by only six votes.

The race for Binghamton city judge is also close, with Democrat Debra Gelson leading Republican Sophie Bergman by 19 votes.

Two Ithaca Common Council seats are up for grabs after a surprise write-in campaign and a close race

There are around 200-300 absentee ballots and affidavits to count, according to the Tompkins County Board of Elections. The board of elections will scan ballots and certify the results on Wednesday.

In Ithaca, the races for 5th and 4th Ward common council seats are close enough that affidavits and absentee ballots could affect the certified results. In the 5th Ward, Jason Houghton, running on the Ithacans for Progress line, leads Democrat and Working Families candidate Clyde Lederman by just 23 votes.

In the 4th Ward, a number of surprise write-in votes have threatened incumbent Alderperson Jorge Defendini’s seat. The write-in votes are likely for Patrick Kuehl, a Cornell student who launched a last-minute write-in campaign. Defendini is still leading in that race, but only by 16 votes.