Incumbent Congressman Tim Bishop (D-NY1) may not be headed back to Congress after all following a reexamination of voting machines which showed Republican Randy Altschuler ahead in votes.
Human error is being blamed for the misreported votes, which on election night had Bishop leading Altschuler by approximately 3,400 votes. Upon the delivery of the district’s voting machines to the Board of Elections warehouse, it was found that Altschuler was actually 393 votes ahead of Bishop.
On election night, each voting machine generates a printout – with codes instead of candidate names – that election inspectors transmit back to the Board of Elections by phone. Translating these codes into vote tallies, the Board of Elections released unofficial results on November 2nd. One Republican source close to the ongoing counting process tells FrumForum that it is likely that the poll watchers simply misread some of the codes.
“They’ve [the poll inspectors] been there since 6am, it’s now nine-thirty at night, so there was human error involved here. To date we have not seen any sign of mechanical error or electronic error. The integrity of the voting machines have not been questioned,” said the source.
In a race this close, the ultimate winner will likely be confirmed from the counting of absentee ballots, of which 9,901 have been returned as of close of business Friday.
“We remain optimistic. We think things look good for a successful outcome,” Randy Altschuler’s communications advisor, Rob Ryan, told FrumForum. Ryan was quick to point out that the voter registrations of the absentee ballots to be counted are weighed in favor of Republicans:
Ryan also points out that absentee ballots tend to be from nursing homes and traveling businessmen. Of the 13 senior communities in New York’s 1st congressional district, Altschuler won 12, and businessmen tend to break Republican, says Ryan.
Further complicating matters, the vote tallying doesn’t end after absentee ballots are counted. Military votes aren’t due to be counted until November 24th. And muddying up the legal aspect of the count is that this is the first general election in which electronic voting machines have been used.
This race made additional news today when MSNBC reported that 30 Rock star Alec Baldwin is considering a run for the seat should Bishop lose it to Altschuler. “The desire [to run for office] is there; that’s one component,” he said. “The other component is opportunity.”
In any case, although the final tally hasn’t been established, Democratic Tim Bishop now looks likely to be booted from office – however belatedly – and Republican Randy Altschuler will be headed to Washington, D.C. in his stead.
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