Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Oh, that Town of Malta race for supervisor ...

... and why you should not vote like my Handsome Husband did!

Our local election for town supervisor has been a cliff-hanger for days. Today, a judge was supposed to end the suspense, but no such luck.

Here is what happened. After election day, the voting results stood like this:
Democrat Cynthia Young had a 12-vote lead over incumbent Republican Paul Sausville, 1,537 to 1,525. But, there were more than 100 absentee ballots that needed to be counted the following week.

On November 13, 112 absentee ballots were counted by the Saratoga County Board of Elections. Democrat Cynthia Young’s lead over the incumbent Republican, Paul Sausville, dropped to just four votes.
Disputes over 23 ballots meant that the candidates were headed to state Supreme Court today.

As former Schenectady Gazette writer Carl Strock would have said, I hied myself over to the county court building at 11:00 AM today to see how it would all turn out.

Except, nobody was there. A kindly security person explained that the parties were across the street at the Board of Elections, trying to hash out their differences before resorting to the court for a decision.

So across the street I went and just in time, too. The two sides had agreed to count 22 of the ballots, leaving only one ballot still in dispute. This one ballot they would take to court only if it was necessary to decide the winner.

As each absentee ballot was opened, everyone leaned in to check it out.

The attorney for Republican Mr. Sausville objected to another of the ballots, making it two ballots under dispute. Both of these were votes for the Democrat, Cynthia Young.

When they were done, Mr. Sausville was ahead by one vote. There were two disputed ballots, both for Mrs. Young.

"It's going to the judge," Republican Attorney Walsh said.

In court, the arguments were about "stray marks" on the back sides of the two absentee ballots. This was the area where voters chose "yes" or "no" on six propositions. Here was the issue for the judge: Should marks on the back of a ballot invalidate the voters' clear choice of supervisor candidate on the front side?

 On both of the ballots, the voters had tried to correct a mistake. One wrote in "No vote" (after crossing out "yes") and initialed the change.  The second voter also changed his/her proposal vote but did not add initials.

Judge Robert J. Chauvin seemed to be more troubled by the ballot with the initials than the one without them. The initials, he said, could be used to identify the voter, and that could invalidate the entire ballot.

The judge wanted more time to research the statutes and case law and said that he will announce his decision tomorrow afternoon at 1:30.  If Judge Chauvin accepts one ballot but tosses out the other, the election is a tie.

Which brings me to my frustratingly non-committing Handsome Husband. The HH did not vote in this race. He went to the polls on Election Day and voted on other stuff, but he refused to make a choice for supervisor.  My husband and I know and like all three of the candidates whose names were on the ballot. The HH just did not want to vote for one over the other. He stayed out of it. (There was a third candidate, Peter Klotz, who withdrew from the race but whose name still appeared on the ballot and received over 400 votes.)

And because the HH did not vote, he just may have disenfranchised the rest of us. You see, if the election is a tie, that means it will not be the voters who choose their next supervisor; it will be up to the all-Republican Malta Town Board to appoint a supervisor.

You know how the Car Talk guys always end their radio shows with, "Don't drive like my brother"?

Well, I say, "Don't vote like my husband."