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Counting of absentee ballots under way

The Niagara County Board of Elections began counting absentee ballots in some close races Thursday, but none has been resolved yet.
Teams of election workers started counting paper ballots from North Tonawanda, Newfane and the Town of Niagara on Thursday. Today's plans are to complete North Tonawanda, where the alderman-at-large race hangs in the balance, and carry out recounts of close councilman races in Porter and Cambria.

The cliffhanger races for Somerset supervisor and councilman won't be counted until Tuesday, Election Commissioners Scott P. Kiedrowski and Nancy L. Smith said.
Every municipality's votes will play a part in the county Family Court race between Republican incumbent John F. Batt and Democratic challenger Linda M. DiPasquale, but the needle didn't move much Thursday.
Complete results from the Town of Niagara and incomplete totals from North Tonawanda and Newfane showed Batt's election night lead of 529 votes had widened by seven votes. There were 1,999 absentee ballots cast countywide.
In North Tonawanda, with 16 of the city's 34 election districts tallied, Arthur G. Pappas, the Democratic nominee, had crept nine votes closer to Republican incumbent Catherine G. Schwandt. Schwandt led by 67 votes after the machines were counted on Election Night.
The Board of Elections received 243 absentee votes for North Tonawanda, but so far only 97 have been counted. Another 18 were set aside temporarily because of protests over technicalities from the lawyers bird-dogging the count: former Election Commissioner Michael J. Norris for the Republicans and mayoral administrative assistant Jeffrey N. Mis for the Democrats.
The disputed votes will be opened in three days unless someone files a lawsuit over them, Smith said.
There were no close races for town offices in the Town of Niagara or Newfane, but they were chosen to be counted early because they are part of the District 4 coroner race, where Democrat Robert W. DuBois led incumbent Republican Russell Jackman II by 84 votes as of Election Night.
DuBois padded his lead by 19 votes in the Town of Niagara on Thursday, but Jackman was ahead by seven in Newfane at the close of business. The net result so far: DuBois leading by 96 in the district that also includes Porter, Cambria, Lewiston and Wilson. In all, 531 absentees voted in the six towns.
The Porter councilman race shows Republican incumbent Lawrence H. White leading Democrat William A. Choboy by 39 votes for the second of two avilable seats. Republican Jeffrey P. Baker comfortably won the first seat. Eighty absentee votes were cast.
In Cambria, 29 absentees cast votes. Democrat Joseph Ohol leads GOP incumbent Matthew P. Foe by 16 votes for the second councilman spot. Republican incumbent George J. Bush won the first seat.
In Somerset, the 65 absentee votes will tell the tale. Incumbent Supervisor Richard J. Meyers, who ran on two minor lines after losing the GOP primary, has a 15-vote lead over his predecessor, John E. Sweeney Jr.
In the councilman contest, GOP incumbent Randall J. Wayner lead Robert J. Degnan, a Democrat who ran with the backing of the county Republican hierarchy, by 12 votes for the second seat. Daniel M. Engert, a first-time GOP candidate, won the first seat.


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