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Democrats narrow vote gap in crucial state Senate race

By Tom Precious

ALBANY – It seems so rare when the sport we call Albany politics is not just a truly predetermined card game. But, now, we have the Senate 46th.

After counting wrapped up a short while ago tonight in Ulster County, Republican George Amedore’s lead in the Senate race against Democrat Cecilia Tkaczyk is now down to a mere 110-vote difference (or 111 if you believe the GOP count). That is down from a 920-vote lead the GOP candidate held before paper ballots started being opened yesterday in Kingston, the county seat of Ulster and, of course, New York’s first state capital in the 1770s.

In either a sign of election law brilliance or desperation, the GOP lawyers challenged the legality of 462 paper ballots – a combination of absentee and affidavit votes – in just Ulster alone. Overall in the five counties that make up the new Senate district, Democrats say the GOP has set aside 660 paper ballots they say should not be counted for a variety of election law violations. Democrats, meanwhile, objected to 204 paper ballots in the five counties.

That means a state judge in Montgomery County -- on Thursday -- will start to determine which of those contested ballots will be counted and which will go in the garbage.

That decision will determine which party controls the state Senate come January.

UPDATE: Lawyers from both sides will take part in a conference call with the judge later today to start working out procedural issues for how the uncounted ballots will be handled.

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