Barrett and Wager await count of absentee votes
GHENT–Democrat Didi Barrett held a 154-vote lead over Richard Wager, her Republican opponent, in the unofficial results for the 103rd Assembly District special election March 20.
A final determination of the winner of an abbreviated term won’t be made until April 3 at the earliest, after all the absentee and military ballots are counted.
The 103rd Assembly District includes the city of Hudson and the towns of Ancram, Austerlitz, Canaan, Claverack, Copake, Ghent, Greenport, Hillsdale and Stockport in Columbia County and 12 Dutchess County towns, including Red Hook, Milan, Millerton and Pine Plains and most of the eastern side of that county stretching south to the Putnam County border.
The number of Democrats requesting absentee ballots before the election slightly outnumbered the number of Republicans, according to officials at the elections boards in Columbia and Dutchess counties. But the there were a large number of absentee ballots requested by voters registered in minor parties or who have not indicated a party preference, which means the election outcome remains uncertain despite Ms. Barrett’s advantage in the machine vote count.
Absentee ballots are not due until March 27 and military ballots are valid if they arrive by April 2, Virginia Martin, the Columbia County Democratic elections commissioner said Tuesday.
The candidates may also challenge the results in court, which has happened in several local races in recent years. That might further delay the determination of a winner, although the courts have generally acted quickly in such cases.
Ms. Barrett, who ran unsuccessfully for state Senate in 2010, won convincingly in Columbia County in this election, receiving 1,960 votes to 1,464 for Mr. Wager, a 50.6% share to the vote. She lost to Mr. Wager in Dutchess County, but the gap between her 3,844 votes and his tally of 4,186 was small enough to give her the victory in the unofficial count of the votes cast at polling places Tuesday.
The need for a special election, which was called by Governor Cuomo in January, came about after the incumbent, Marc Molinaro, a Republican, resigned to become the Dutchess County executive.
Whichever one of the candidates prevails in the final, certified vote tabulation will hold the office until the end of this year. Either one could run again for the Assembly, but the 103rd District will no longer include Columbia County after redistricting takes effect in the next election.
The outcome of the machine vote in Columbia County showed Ms. Barrett winning easily in the City of Hudson, Hillsdale, Austerlitz and Canaan, and Mr. Wager leading in Claverack and Greenport. The unofficial results are posted on the Columbia County Board of Elections website, www.columbiacountyny.com/depts/elections.
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