Conservative Doug Hoffman conceded the NY23 congressional race to Democrat Bill Owens in part because he believed the vote tallies reported on election night. Bill Owens was sworn in to office last Friday, and Saturday broke campaign promises and signed Nancy Pelosi’s health care bill. In doing so, he freed up a few fence-sitters to vote “yes” because they wouldn’t be seen as the “deciding vote.”
Today we learned that the New York State Board of Elections has not certified Owens as the winner. We also learned that in Oswego County alone Hoffman’s lead over Owens was underreported by more than 1200 votes.
The Post Standard reported:
But Hoffman’s concession — based on snafus in Oswego County and elsewhere that left his vote undercounted — set off a chain of events that echoed all the way to Washington, D.C., and helped secure passage of a historic health care reform bill.
Democratic Rep. Bill Owens was quickly sworn into office on Friday, a day before the rare weekend vote in the House of Representatives. His support sealed his party’s narrow victory on the health care legislation.
Now a recanvassing in the 11-county district shows that Owens’ lead has narrowed to 3,026 votes over Hoffman, 66,698 to 63,672, according to the latest unofficial results from the state Board of Elections.
In Oswego County, where Hoffman was reported to lead by only 500 votes with 93 percent of the vote counted election night, inspectors found Hoffman actually won by 1,748 votes — 12,748 to 11,000.
The new vote totals mean the race will be decided by absentee ballots, of which about 10,200 were distributed, said John Conklin, communications director for the state Board of Elections.
Under a new law in New York that extended deadlines, military and overseas ballots received by this coming Monday (and postmarked by Nov. 2) will be counted. Standard absentee ballots had to be returned this past Monday.
But it wasn’t just Oswego County that underreported votes for Hoffman.
The district’s second biggest voter turnout was in Jefferson County, where Hoffman also has benefited from a turnaround since election night, gaining about 700 votes. Owens led Hoffman by 300 votes on the final election night tally. But after recanvassing, Hoffman now leads by 424 votes, 10,884 to 10,460.
Jerry Eaton, the Republican elections commissioner for Jefferson County, said inspectors found a problem in four districts where Hoffman’s vote total was mistakenly entered as zero.
“Hoffman definitely gained votes where he didn’t have them,” Eaton said.
Jefferson County, home of Fort Drum and the Army’s 10th Mountain Division, distributed 2,299 absentee ballots for the special election. As of this week, 1,303 had been returned but not counted, Eaton said. He said the county will begin counting the absentee ballots earyl next week.
Conklin, of the state Board of Elections, said officials did not have updated absentee ballot totals from the other counties.
The Hoffman campaign is weighing their options at this point. Is it a coincidence that the errors all happened to be in Owens’s favor? There were also reports of voting machine malfunctions in St. Lawrence and Fulton Counties on election day.
The Gouvernour Times reported that an election official said that if the final vote favors Hoffman, Owens will have to be removed.
As it stands now, Bill Owens may be in Washington and voting the Pelosi Party line but when the vote is certified he may be ousted. The state Board of Elections indicated that “…all ballots will be counted, and if the result changes, Owens will have to be removed.” Concession speech or not, if the voters in the 23rd District elected Doug Hoffman and not Bill Owens, then Hoffman will be the Representative.
There are currently over 10,000 uncounted absentee ballots, many of which were in the military where a strongly conservative bias exists. Given the narrow margin of Owens’ lead at this time, it’s entirely possible that this race could still swing for Hoffman.
Sources indicate that the Democrats would not have had the votes to pass the Health bill if Owens had not been sworn-in and pledged his support for it. Several other Representatives have indicated that they would not have cast their votes in favor of the bill if they were not certain that it had the votes to win.
There’s no doubt in my mind Bill Owens and the DCCC are amassing an army of lawyers to do whatever they can to keep Owens in office. They’re probably getting some help from Obama’s Organizing for America, ACORN, and the unions to make sure some extra Owens votes magically appear between now and the final vote tally.
Yet again, the democrats have pulled a fast one on the American people.