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Election woes continue in Columbia County

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    A three-sided screen offers privacy for voters at a local polling place.
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    An election inspector accepts a completed ballot before it is inserted into a reading device.
November 7, 2019 05:41 pm Updated: November 7, 2019 11:18 pm

HUDSON — Results of many races in Tuesday’s General Election remained incomplete Thursday.

Early voting results were posted separately from Tuesday’s machine votes on the Columbia County Board of Elections’ website late Wednesday but were later taken down without explanation.

Columbia County election officials did not return a call for comment by press time to explain the delays.

Visitors to the board’s website Thursday saw this message: “Unofficial early voting results will be posted today [Thursday] with the tally of unscanned ballots.” But as of 4 p.m. Thursday, the early voting tallies and unscanned ballots had not been posted on the county Board of Elections website.

Columbia County had the highest percentage of early voters in the state, with 7.5%, or 3,371 of the 45,201 registered voters, visiting three designated polling places. Columbia County participated in early voting for the first time this year.

Early voting, for voters registered in Columbia County, was available for nine days, from Saturday, Oct. 26 through Sunday, Nov. 3, at three locations: County Building, 401 State St., Hudson; Martin H. Glynn Municipal Building, Valatie; and Copake Town Hall, 230 Mountain View Road.

But on the first day, three machines at each location were not accepting the ballot paper because it wasn’t the right kind, so 800 votes were unscanned and emergency ballots were used. These had to be counted by hand individually.

Without early voting results, races in several communities including Ghent, Gallatin, Clermont, Germantown, and Taghkanic were too close to call Thursday. Absentee ballots also have to be counted.

Some candidates were left wondering if they had won or lost. In Gallatin, Republican town justice candidate Shane Bower led his challenger, Democrat Tia Denenberg, by only two votes, 192 to 190, not including early voting results.

All election tallies are unofficial until absentee ballots are counted and the results are certified by the board of elections. There are an estimated 1,200 absentee ballots left to be counted. It is unclear when those absentees will be counted. Columbia County Board of Elections officials did not return a call for comment by press time Thursday.

State Board of Elections officials did not return multiple requests for comment Thursday.

Columbia County Board of Supervisors Chairman Matthew Murell could not be reached for comment by press time Thursday.

To reach reporter Amanda Purcell, call 518-828-1616 ext. 2500, or send an email to apurcell@thedailymail.net, or tweet to @amandajpurcell.