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Some Chemung County races still too close to call

Natalie Abruzzo

Counties across upstate New York are still counting write-in votes, absentee and affidavit ballots.

In Chemung County, last week’s election results left several races too close to call.

The Chemung County Board of Elections said some of the Elmira City Council races were too close to determine a clear winner until all verified and accepted absentee ballots and affidavits were counted.

In District 1, incumbent Democratic Councilmember Nick Grasso leads Republican challenger Patrick Griffin by less than 20 votes. In District 2, Democratic Councilmember Corey Cooke leads Republican challenger Charles Cerio by less than 10 votes. And in District 4, Democrat Gary Brinn leads incumbent Republican Councilmember Mark Franchi by just a single vote.

Sperry Navone, Republican commissioner with the county board of elections, said state law requires a manual recount where a margin of victory is 20 votes or less or is 0.5% of the vote or less.

“The voters of Chemung County can be assured that we're going to be doing everything to ensure that all votes are counted, and that the process is adhered to and that they can be comfortable knowing that their elections are secure,” said Navone.

Navone said voter turnout during this year's election was low. The county had a 17% voter turnout, not including the outstanding absentee ballots.

“From a perspective of an [operational] standpoint, we still have all the laws and requirements that we need to follow to conduct an election and that process doesn't change, whether there's 10 candidates or 100 candidates or whether there's 1,000 voters or 30,000 voters,” explained Navone.

Four other races around the county had write-in votes that needed certification of names and vote counts. They included council races in the towns of Big Flats, Erin and Veteran, and a town justice race in Baldwin.

A council race in Veteran received 261 write-in votes; that's more votes than either of the two Democratic candidates on that ballot received.

Winston Wolf, a Republican on the town’s planning board, said he orchestrated a write-in campaign out of frustration with the current council members.

Wolf said the council violated the state’s open meetings laws on occasion and he said he was silenced during council meetings.

The Chemung County Board of Elections has not certified whether Wolf’s the sole recipient of those write-in votes.

All absentee ballots postmarked by Nov. 7 and received by Nov. 15 will be counted by the end of the day on Wednesday.