Absentee ballot counting underway in Monroe County: ‘Every vote will be counted’

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BRIGHTON, N.Y. (WROC) — Absentee ballot counting for last week’s Primary is officially underway in Monroe County and there are an unprecedented number of ballots this year due to COVID-19.

Election workers are just getting started counting ballots. Democratic Election Commissioner LaShana Boose said she can’t give a timeline on how long it will take.

“Right now we’re still on the Primary and we want to make sure every ballot that’s for this Primary election is counted before opening the other two elections. Today we’re seeing literally just for one election I think about 30,000 to 35,000 ballots for absentee, which is about where we were for early voting and election day,” said Boose.

Boise said when questions come up about a ballot it’s up to her and Republican commissioner Lisa Nicolay to make a ruling on whether to count the ballot or not.

“We have made rulings on ballots that will not count but they’re for reasons designated in election law, so those reasons would be that a ballot wasn’t received timely, a ballot was not signed by the voter, things of that nature.”

Some candidates were at the Board of Elections Service Center on Wednesday observing the process. Nicolay said the Board of Elections welcomes this.

“They’re not touching ballots obviously because they’re just here to watch, but most of them have been here all day, all morning so far, and they’re asking questions,” said Nicolay.

Jamie Romeo is a candidate for Monroe County Clerk and was there on Wednesday along with candidate Demond Meeks.

“The thing that we’re looking for is if a ballot’s not going to be counted and if we’re going to disenfranchise that voter, why? And unfortunately there are some requirements that I think what we’re learning is that we have to do more voter education just about the process for mail-in voting. Mail- in voting works, it’s just that you need to do more of that education on sign the back of that envelope, make sure it’s time stamped timely,” said Romeo.

There was some controversy last week regarding a Board of Elections employee who is also the treasurer on Ernest Flagler’s campaign. Treasurer Carla Williams was supposed to count absentee ballots and the commissioners said this isn’t against election law, but they decided it would be best to remove her from the absentee ballot counting process anyway. Williams is still a Board of Elections employee but the commissioners said they felt removing her from the counting process would eliminate any controversy about the situation.

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