Error Caused Over-count of Third-Party Votes in Ulster Co. Elections

In Brief – Thousands of votes cast for two Ulster County Democrats were mistakenly tallied on third-party lines instead of the Democratic line.

The error did not cause the final count for the candidates to be changed — each vote went to the correct candidate, but on the wrong party line.

The error, which affected the party tallies for County Executive, District Attorney and Comptroller, was corrected Friday, according to County Republican Elections Commissioner Thomas Turco.

The error occurred election night, when the Ulster County Board of Elections (BOE) merged the results from early voting with election night votes, mistakenly inserting the early-voting results onto the wrong party lines, Turco said.

Early voting is new in the state, and Turco explained the error as part of “growing pains” of a new system.

An employee was also rushed to the hospital on election night, forcing the BOE to shut down until the next day, Turco added.

The error greatly inflated the number of votes Democratic candidates got on the Working Families Party and Libertarian Party lines and decreased the number of votes on the Democratic lines.

For instance, Pat Ryan, the democratic candidate for County Executive, initially was shown to have received more than 7,500 votes on the Working Families line before the BOE switched the votes to their proper place on the Democratic line. Ryan now has just under 3,200 votes on the Working Families line.

The error only affected the uncertified results, Turco said, and were never sent to the state. The Working Families Party never contacted the BOE, nor did the BOE contact them, but multiple candidates called questioning the high number of third-party votes.

Though the uncertified results show Ryan and March Gallagher, the Democratic candidate for Comptroller, comfortably ahead, Democratic District Attorney candidate Dave Clegg is only three votes behind Republican candidate Mike Kavanagh.

That race won’t be decided for at least a week. Absentee ballots still must be counted, a process not set to begin until the 18th.


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