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Mix-up at the polls

November 14th, 2012

It’s a week since voters cast their ballots and it remains unclear who will be serving as the Orange County 18th District legislator – and after a mix-up at the polls, county election officials say that it may be weeks before a winner is declared.

The morning after the election, unofficial results from the county had Democrat Roseanne Sullivan in the lead by 25 votes over Republican incumbent R.J. Smith. With hundreds of absentee ballots to count, the race remained too close to call.

A mix-up then discovered at the Bullville polling location threw a wrench into the works and left the outcome of the election even more uncertain.

David Green, commissioner of the Orange County Board of Elections, said that 28 voters living outside the district were incorrectly given ballots including the Smith-Sullivan race, while 55 living in the district were not given the opportunity to vote on the race.

The Bullville Firehouse was the polling location for three districts, only one of which was in the 18th District. Green stated that through “simple human error,” the wrong set of ballots was placed on the wrong inspector table.

Some voters caught the mistake on Election Day and filled out an affidavit to place their vote for county legislator. Others did not.

Green said that the 28 outside district votes are mixed in and it will be impossible to separate them out. In addition, those who were not given the opportunity to vote on the race on Election Day cannot vote after the fact either.

The Board of Elections had received approximately 325 absentee ballots by the end of last week, but anticipated additional ballots. About 416 voters had requested absentee ballots and under the extended deadline, due to Hurricane Sandy, had until Nov. 5 to mail them in. The Board of Elections would receive them through Nov. 19.

Green stated that they had not decided on a date to count the absentee ballots, but he anticipated that date being set sometime this week. The Board of Elections will also determine how to handle the affidavits filled out on the day of elections.

Orange County Legislator R.J. Smith stated that the dilemma is in the hands of the Board of Elections and he will wait to hear their decision. In the meantime, Smith said he will continue business as usual, working for the county.

Orange County’s 18th District includes the towns of Wallkill and Crawford.

By Rachel Coleman

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