Hilltown elections: Absentee ballots changed the margins, not the results

HILLTOWNS — Absentee ballots have not changed Election Day results in the Hilltowns: Berne Republicans are still the victors, but by a much greater margin; Knox Democrat Russell Pokorny has solidified his lead over Republican Kregg Grippo for supervisor; and Westerlo incumbent Justice Ken Mackey, whose opponent had been behind him by just two votes, has kept his seat.

The absentee ballot counts were released by the Albany County Board of Elections on Nov. 17. 

It’s rare that absentee ballots change election results, but because New York State expanded no-excuse absentee voting due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there was ample opportunity for an upset of the Election Day counts. 

In Berne, Highway Superintendent Randy Bashwinger, who is also chairman of the county GOP, had gone around town soliciting ballots, and so the Republican slate there furthered its already considerable lead over the Democrats, even though the majority of residents are enrolled as Democrats (albeit less so since 2016). 

Now, the Berne Republicans are shown to have won with roughly a 60-40 split in the contested races for supervisor, three town board seats, clerk, and highway superintendent. 

In Knox, Democrat Russell Pokorny had a 27-vote lead on Election Day, which has grown to 39. In Westerlo, Mackey jumped from a two-vote lead to a 14-vote victory. 

More Hilltowns News

  • Kayleigh Reynolds-Flynn has been riding horses since she was born.

  • The Berne Town Hall.

    Berne Planning Board member Lawrence Zimmerman resigned in November over frustrations that the town is not following the guidance of its own comprehensive plan. Former town board member Dawn Jordan says that ideology and partisanship got in the way, along with some more prosaic — and even healthy — obstacles.

  • Municipalities have until Dec. 31 to request that the New York State Cannabis Control Board prohibit marijuana dispensaries and consumption sites from establishing themselves within each municipality’s respective borders. So far, only two of the four Hilltowns have initiated public conversation on the matter.

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