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Vote count continues, Copake police out

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HUDSON – The Columbia County Board of Elections was still compiling the final tally in contested races from the November 8 Tuesday afternoon November 22 when Kathleen O’Keefe, an elections law lawyer working with county Democratic Committee, raised objections to the way challenges to ballots were being handled by GOP Elections Commissioner Jason Nastke.

Ms. O’Keefe said she would present her concerns to a judge, and that effectively suspended the recount process until next week, following the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

Prior to the clash over the challenges, the board had worked its way through many of the contested races and had planned to start on the final count in the Hudson race, where the outcome of the race for mayor between Nick Haddad and William Hallenbeck Jr. remains in doubt.

The results in another closely contested race seemed more certain Tuesday after a request made under the state Freedom of Information Law showed the unofficial outcome of the referendum in the Town of Copake on the fate of the Police Department. The ballot proposition said that the department should be abolished, and asked voters to vote Yes or No. The results, which have yet to be certified, were 496 Yes votes and 486 No.

If the results are confirmed, the town will no longer have its own Police Department and police coverage will be handled by State Police and the county Sheriff’s Office.

News of other races has trickled out through semi-official channels. In Ancram, for instance, the results from the voting machines on election night show Town Council Republican John A. MacArthur was leading Democrat Hugh Clark. But Town Supervisor Art Bassin, a Democrat, reported this week that Mr. Clark won a seat on the board by 16 votes.

All the results of contested races where absentee and write-in ballots could change the outcome remain unofficial until the final results are certified. That’s not expected to happen until at least the middle of next week and could drag on much longer if the challenges end up in litigation as happened two years ago in the Town of Taghkanic.

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