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One state race still undecided

Jan 04, 2011 9:00 am
[caption id="" align="alignright" width="100" caption="Frank Skartados, incumbent Democratic Assemblyman for the 100th District."][/caption]Think November's completely in the past, now? Think again... A Mid Hudson News Network story on Tuesday noted that the race for the state Assembly's 100th district, in Dutchess and other mid-Hudson counties, is still undecided and awaiting some heavy legal maneuvers to play themselves out. Republican Thomas Kirwan remains ahead of Democratic State Assemblyman Frank Skartados by between 25 and 30 ballots, but there are still 46 cast aside and 23 unopened ballots that need to be reckoned with. Attorneys for both sides will return to State Supreme Court Justice Victor Alfieri later this week for permission to count those remaining ballots. Kirwan was the assemblyman in the 100th District until two years ago when Skartados defeated him in a district that includes portions of Orange, Dutchess and Ulster counties. The fate of the seat won't effect larger state politics, but it could have repercussions in terms of local issues, from what money comes back into the district for what, to the coattails that determine county and town races this coming November.

The Times Herald-Record, meanwhile, has a more in-depth piece that gets right into the counting rooms of yesterday.

On Monday, the Dutchess County Board of Elections opened 44 absentee and affidavit ballots from the cities of Beacon and Poughkeepsie at the direction of Judge Victor Alfieri in a decision issued following a hearing in Orange County Court. Both cities are predominantly Democratic.

Skartados, the Democrat in the race, picked up 37 votes to 6 for Kirwan, for a net gain of 31. (One ballot was objected to by Jim Walsh, the lawyer for the Republican team.)

That pulled the freshman incumbent closer to victory — to within 31 votes, according to the Republicans; to within 24, according to Democrats. The two camps have a running difference on the margin on the Nov. 2 election.

Walsh and Kathleen O'Keefe, the lawyer for the Democrats, agreed to send 20 other ballots back to Alfieri for further clarification: 19 on which he made no ruling on whether to count them, and one for which the physical ballot could not be located on Monday.

As Walsh sees it, even if all 20 of those ballots were to fall to Skartados, he'd still be four votes short and Kirwan would return to the seat he held from 1994 to 2008.

But O'Keefe noted there are more than 50 ballots which Alfieri ruled should not be opened and counted, and she disagreed with many of those rulings.

So if the margin is close enough, O'Keefe said, she'll appeal.

And if there's an appeal, that would add to the delay in filling the seat in the 100th District, since results need to be certified by the Board of Elections before a candidate can take office.

Dutchess County Democratic Elections Commissioner Frances Knapp said she won't certify any election while it's being appealed, "unless I'm otherwise directed by the court."
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