One vote separates Republican Tim Lattimore and Democrat Bob Nodzo from representing District 13 residents on the Cayuga County Legislature. The race for District 4 is also close with Republican Chris Petrus leading independent Grant Kyle by 24 votes. Absentee and affidavit ballots will be used to make final calls.
The Cayuga County Board of Elections will begin counting absentee ballots Tuesday, one week after Election Day, Democratic Commissioner Katie Lacey said Wednesday.
For the District 13 race, 67 absentee ballots were issued, of which 35 were to registered Democrats, 21 to Republicans, one to an Independence party member and 10 to no party. If all the Democratic ballots come back for Nodzo, Lattimore will lose the race for his third and final term.
Lacey said so far the office has received 34 ballots, but more were expected to come in the mail. The office accepts absentee ballots postmarked before Election Day.
Lattimore said he was glad to be up by one and not down by 100, but he feels that multiple factors were against him this campaign.
He did not like that Nodzo appeared on the "A line" at the top of the ballot, which he said is more visible than where his name was just below it. The order of rows on New York state ballots is based upon results of the most recent gubernatorial elections. With voters in Lattimore's district leaning Democrat, he also feels "being a little old Republican in a big Democratic town is tough."
While acknowledging that low voter turnout tends to work in his favor, he would have liked to see more people come to the polls. According to the state Board of Elections site, there are 1,900 active voters in District 13 as of Nov. 1, but about 600 people exercised their right to vote on Tuesday.
"I hope, when I say to voters, 'Your vote counts,' I really mean it," Lattimore said. "I had several people come in the office today saying that they went down and at the last minute they voted, and thank God they did, so I mean everybody should take notice in the process."
He thinks President Donald Trump may be affecting Republicans negatively, too, making people less likely to vote for anyone in his party.
Lattimore sent out letters asking for support from absentee ballot holders, so he's not giving up on the race yet. He plans to send a representative to the Board of Elections on Tuesday to watch the count.
Nodzo said he would like to be there for the absentee ballot count. Though down by one, he said he was feeling good overall. He called Tuesday night "surreal."
"My big thing was getting, not to be humiliated because I'm running against a lifetime politician," he said. "I really feel good on the initial outcome."
For the District 4 race, Lacey said 62 absentee ballots were issued. Based on the party breakdown, things look favorable for Petrus. There were 31 ballots sent to Republicans, 15 to Democrats and one to a Conservative. The remaining were sent to minor parties or those not affiliated with a party. Lacey said about 37 ballots had been received so far.
Besides absentee ballots, Lacey said the board did receive some affidavit ballots, which are cast by people who have not yet filed a new change of address. The board was starting to verify those on Wednesday.
Once the board knows what time it will begin counting absentee ballots next week, Lacey said the candidates and political parties will be notified.
"Some send representatives, and some don't," she said. "Usually the major parties send a representative. Candidates have a tendency to show up and pace in the hallway. I don't think they like to watch," she added, laughing.