Can McMurray get a recount in NY27?

Democrat lost to Collins in midterm by one percentage point

Mike Baggerman
November 07, 2018 - 2:49 am

Nate McMurray concedes to Chris Collins in speech at his campaign headquarters in Hamburg. He later called for a recount. November 6, 2018 (WBEN Photo/Mike Baggerman)


BUFFALO, N.Y. (WBEN) – Nathan McMurray demanded a recount after a one-point loss to Congressman Chris Collins in Tuesday’s midterm election for the 27th congressional district.

Does he have the grounds to do it?

According to New York State Election Law (6210.18, H), the “county boards of elections and the courts retain the authority to order manual counts of those records in whole or in part under such other and additional circumstances they deem warranted.”

Both the board of elections and the courts need to take into account:

  • Voter discrepancies exclusively or predominantly on one type of voting machine or system
  • Size and number of discrepancies
  • Percentage of machines or systems with discrepancies
  • Number and distribution of unusable voter-verified paper audit trails
  • Number of cancellations recorded on voter-verified paper audit rail
  • Whether the discrepancies detected (no matter how small) might alter the outcome of the race result

According to the Citizens for Election Integrity Minnesota, a non-profit and non-partisan group that advocates for transparent elections across the country, initiating mechanisms include election-officials, audits, courts, or candidates.

New York State does not have a rule dictating a recount based on how small the vote margin was. Read more on page 611 of the New York State Election Law.

Before McMurray can get a recount, the final votes still need to be tallied across the eight counties that the 27th congressional district encompasses.

"The board of elections will start the process of canvassing the paper ballots that were cast at the polling places by people who weren't listed in the poll book," Republican Erie County Board of Elections Commissioner Ralph Mohr told WBEN. "In addition to that (we will) collect the absentee ballots, which will continue in Erie County for another 13 days."

The final vote will be tallied and a winner will be determined at the end of the month.

Mohr said that the recount mechanism is within the statute of New York State election law. The Erie County Board of Elections conducts recounts of every race, regardless of the percentage difference.

"We go through the same process," Mohr explained. "We take the machine counts. We take the absentee ballots. We take the paper ballots that were passed...What we do from now until the end of the month is go through the process of seeing how many ballots were passed out at the polling site and accounting for each and every one of those ballots."

Mohr said its rare to see a flip in the winner when there's at least a thousand-vote differential. Most results change when the difference is around 500 votes.


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