We’ll start learning the election winners from last week’s close suburban races Tuesday.
That’s when the Erie County Board of Elections will count and reveal results of the absentee ballots from across the county, which should tell the winner in the handful of close races still hanging in the balance.
They include the supervisor’s races in Hamburg and Orchard Park, the contest for Town Board in Amherst, the highway superintendent’s race in Newstead and the battle for the Second Ward seat in the City of Tonawanda.
In that race, Democrat Jackie A. Smilinich is leading Republican Jonathan R. Juliano by a single vote.
“We’ll have a summary of all the absentee ballots for all the races,” said Democratic Elections Commissioner Dennis E. Ward. “Once that information comes out, that will pretty much tell the story unless a district race is very, very close.”
If the absentee ballots are counted and the race is still too close to call, the candidates will have to wait a little longer to learn the outcome.
“At that point,” Ward said, “the only ballots left to be counted, and could change the count, are the affidavit ballots and the unscanned ballots. There usually aren’t many.”
Unscanned ballots are those that for whatever reason couldn’t be scanned at the polls on Election Day.
Voters cast an affidavit ballot if they show up to the polls and are not registered in the voter book. The Board of Elections has to review those and make a decision on their validity.
The Board of Elections has contacted the candidates in the close races and set up a time and day next week to be present at the offices on 134 W. Eagle St. so all the votes can be counted for an official tally.
That will begin at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, when the ballots are counted for the Second Ward in the City of Tonawanda, and then at 3 p.m. when the votes are tallied for highway superintendent in Newstead, where Democrat Michael C. Bassanello is leading Republican John P. Jendrowski Jr. by 35 votes.
In the race for Orchard Park supervisor, Republican challenger Patrick J. Keem is leading Democratic incumbent Janis A. Colarusso by 132 votes. The votes will be counted in that race at 1 p.m. on Thursday.
Meanwhile, the schedule is still not settled for the Hamburg and Amherst races, Ward said.
The race that’s closest after the absentee ballots are counted will be handled next Friday, Ward said. Final results for the other race would be tallied the following week, he said.
In Hamburg, Supervisor Steven J. Walters, a Republican, is leading challenger Walter Rooth III, by 158 votes with 461 absentee ballots returned to the Board of Elections by Election Day.
In Amherst, the 1,152 absentee ballots returned by Election Day still have the potential to swing the close four-way race for two Town Board seats.
Republican incumbent Steven D. Sanders and Democratic newcomer Ramona D. Popowich are leading, but fewer than 200 votes separate Popowich from the other two candidates, Republican Howard Cadmus and Democrat Patricia S. Dunne.