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Choolokian wants election commissioners to recuse themselves in counting of absentee ballots

Glenn Choolokian's campaign wants both the Republican and Democratic commissioners in the Niagara County Board of Elections to recuse themselves in the counting of absentee ballots in the Democratic mayoral primary.

Choolokian trails incumbent Paul Dyster by 73 votes, according to unofficial results from Thursday's primary race. Choolokian has declined to concede, while Dyster has declared victory. At least 179 absentee ballots have to be counted.

In a news release issued Monday morning, Choolokian's campaign said they believe both sides "have a motive for the results to stand."

"The Republican Party would much rather face Dyster than face Glenn Choolokian in the general election," the campaign's statement read. "The Democratic Party would like their endorsed candidate to be in the general election."

"Our primary concern is the opening of all remaining ballots be done on an even playing field," the campaign's statement continued. "We are asking both election commissioners to recluse [sic] themselves from the entire process as this election is too important to let outside influences cloud any judgment on the validity of those ballots."

The counting of the absentee ballots may begin as soon as Friday, the board has said.

Choolokian's camp said they will be "moving forward" with their attorney Thomas Webb.

Sam Archie, Choolokian's campaign manager, said he was not questioning the integrity of the commissioners in making the request.

Democratic Commissioner Lora Allen said the commissioners don't count absentee ballots and had already decided to assign staff who live outside of Niagara Falls to count the ballots in the Falls race.

Republican Commissioner Jennifer Fronczak also said the commissioners don't normally count absentee ballots.

Absentee ballots in the race are scheduled to be counted at 2 p.m. Friday in the board's Lockport offices, Allen said.

Related content: What does Dyster's narrow margin mean, if anything, about the state of Niagara Falls and the direction it's heading?

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