When will we know local results for Election 2020?

The Enterprise — Melissa Hale-Spencer

John Schillinger signs his name electronically Tuesday morning at the Guilderland Center firehouse. Poll worker Marcia Scott, at left, prepares to hand him a ballot and an “I Voted” sticker.

ALBANY COUNTY — Although an unprecedented number of county residents have voted early or voted on mail-in ballots, Matthew Clyne, the county’s Democratic election commissioner, said this afternoon that by tonight the direction of local races should be clear.

Early voting, which started just last year in New York, drew 49,813 county residents to the polls for this election. Early voting is electronic and “the minute you cast your ballot,” Clyne said, the vote is tabulated on the machine.

The early-voting results will be posted first, at 9 p.m. tonight, on the Albany County Board of Elections website, he said.

Following that, as the results come in from different polling places where residents voted today, those, too, will be tabulated and posted.

Any New Yorker qualified for an absentee ballot this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Altogether, Albany County gave out 38,161 paper ballots, Clyne said.

So far, he said, 28,557 have come back to the board of elections.

Ballots must be postmarked by midnight on Nov. 3 to be valid. “They have seven days to come in,” Clyne said.

New York allows residents who have received mail-in ballots or even returned those ballots to vote on Election Day, with the in-person vote cancelling out and replacing the mailed-in vote.

“Some of these people,” said Clyne of residents who requested absentee ballots, “opted nonetheless to vote in person during early voting or today … We don’t know how many will be cancelled out.”

The board of elections will start counting absentee ballots next Tuesday, Clyne said. He also said that paper ballots almost always reflect the counts in electronic voting.

“Paper ballots reflect the machine vote,” he said. “They break down in the same proportion.”

There may be a rare exception, he said, in a small town or village election where there has been a write-in campaign.

With paper ballots left to count, Clyne said, candidates often think, “We’re still in it. Anything goes.”

Actually, Clyne said, “We’ve never seen anything like that.”

Typically, in Albany County, about 140,000 to 144,000 residents vote in a presidential election. Clyne estimated that — combining the early voters with the mail-in voters — about half that number had already cast their ballots before Election Day.

“It goes a long way to reduce congestion,” he said, adding that Election Day is “usually quite chaotic.”

Clyne went on, “It’s certainly unprecedented. We have no history with a presidential election where half the vote is in.”

A post-election canvass will start on Tuesday, Nov. 10.

“Depending on how close a contest is, we should have a result within three or four days,” said Clyne.

He concluded of local election results not available until paper ballots are counted next week, “I don’t think they’ll be any nail-biters.”

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