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Recount affirms Democrat as winner

The unofficial winner of last week's Wilson village trustee race appears to have wrapped up the election after a recount Monday that was requested by his opponent.

Niagara County's two elections commissioners agreed that Democrat Bernard Leiker has 143 votes to 127 for Republican Keith Douglas. The tally was 142-132 for Leiker after votes were first counted last week.

Leiker's 16-vote margin appeared to give him a secure victory because, of the 17 votes on which the commissioners disagreed, only 12 were for Douglas.

Democratic Elections Commissioner Nancy Smith disputed the 12 ballots cast for Douglas and Republican Commissioner Mary Ann L. Casamento disputed the five for Leiker, Smith said.

Under state Election Law, when commissioners disagree on a disputed vote, it is added to the total three days later unless a candidate goes to court in the meantime.

But even if there was a lawsuit, it couldn't produce enough votes for Douglas to win unless other ballots for Leiker on which the commissioners agreed were thrown out for some reason.

Casamento and Smith agreed that 12 ballots should not be counted at all because the people who cast them actually voted for no one. The paper ballots for last Tuesday's election contained three boxes: one for Leiker, one for Douglas and one available for a write-in candidate.

Of the dozen ballots the commissioners agreed to discard, 11 of the voters put markings in the write-in box, but didn't write in a name there. One merely crossed off his own signature.

Five people put a star in Leiker's column instead of an X or a check mark; Smith thinks those should count. "I think the voter intent was there," she said.

Of the dozen Casamento supports and Smith disputes, four voters made extra markings on their ballots, five marked boxes for both Douglas and the write-in and three scribbled down stars instead of an X or a check mark.

e-mail: tprohaska@buffnews.com

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