Several candidates tonight in Columbia County won by fewer votes than the number of absentee ballots remaining to be counted. In some cases, the absentees could readily change the outcome; in others, it’s extremely unlikely.
To help determine which races are still close and which really are not, it’s a good time to break out a formula posted at this site a couple of years ago. This version applies to the candidate who is ahead on Election Night:
To see how this works, consider three undecided races in Ghent, Claverack and Taghkanic.
In Ghent, two candidates are vying for one remaining seat: Mallory Mort and Larry Van Brunt. Mort got 731 votes “on the machine” and Van Brunt got 734. According to sources, about 125 absentee ballots have been received so far. (A few more may trickle in, but we’ll use the 125 figure, assuming that not everyone casts a vote for every office.)
To overturn Van Brunt’s Election Night win, Mort must get 65 of the 125 absentees. That would mean he wins the absentees 65-60, picking up 5 votes. If he wins the absentees only by 64-61, it’s a tie. Meanwhile, if Van Brunt gets 62 or more of the 125 absentees, he wins by at least one.
In other words, in this Ghent Town Board race, every vote will really make a difference. Ghent Democrats are confident that Mort will win once the absentees are counted, though not by a huge margin.
For Claverack Supervisor, Kippy Wiegelt is ahead of Robin Andrews by 74 votes, 859 to 785. This site was told by a Claverack politico that about 120 absentees have come in so far. To secure victory, Wiegelt needs only 24 of the absentees: that would give him a one-vote win, 883-881. So even if Andrews takes 80% of the absentees, Wiegelt narrowly retains his lead.
That frankly looks like a lock for Weigelt, especially considering that unlike some other towns, Claverack’s absentees come as much from local nursing homes as from second home owners.
In Taghkanic’s Supervisor race, the numbers might seem similarly bleak for the Democratic candidate, though there’s a twist... Wilzig Racing Manor majordomo Erik Tyree leads current Town Board member Larry Kadish, 272-214, a 58-vote lead. A well-placed source indicates that there are 111 absentees to count at this point.
Tyree thus needs just 27 of the 111 absentees (25%) to hold on for a 299-298 win. Kadish would appear to be in serious trouble. However, in recent Taghkanic election cycles, absentees have overturned the Election Day result, sometimes quite dramatically, because the Taghkanic Democrats have a very robust absentee ballot ground game. One would still favor Tyree to eke out a not-very-convincing victory, but it won’t be by much.
N O T E : All of the above computations are based upon publicly-reported Election Night results, and more shaky reports of the number of absentee ballot returns. All of the projections above could vary somewhat, if the base numbers change.