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What happens now with counting votes in NY-27?

Democrat Nate McMurray has called for a recount, but what effect, if any, will that request have on what happens now?

At this point, there won't be any changes to what the Erie County Board of Elections does, which is the process it undertakes in the wake of every election, Republican Elections Commissioner Ralph M. Mohr said Wednesday.

That means elections officials will count every vote in this race – and every race. Like they usually do.

Collins' lead over McMurray sits at a percentage point, according to unofficial results from the boards of election in the eight counties that make up New York's 27th Congressional District, where Republicans hold a 40,000-enrollment advantage.

Collins declared victory on Tuesday night. McMurray conceded shortly after 11 p.m. but called for a recount about two hours later.

What's the process for determining the winner?

The vote totals reported Tuesday night in most counties were only from the ballots cast at voting machines on Tuesday, Mohr said. Livingston and Monroe county officials count their absentee ballots on the night of the election.

At this point, Board of Elections officials will undertake what's called a "canvass" of the results.

Other types of ballots need to be counted, including absentee, affidavit and emergency ballots. This process applies to all races, not just NY-27.

Could absentee ballots affect the outcome?

The margin was 2,692 votes as of Tuesday night, with 99.5 percent of election districts reporting, according to a Buffalo News count of the results from the eight counties.

As of Tuesday in Erie County, 4,804 absentee ballots in the congressional race had been returned to the Board of Elections. As long as a ballot is postmarked by a day before the election, absentee ballots are given 13 days to show up at the board. Erie County officials wait the 13 days before counting them to make sure all have been received.

Mohr estimated the absentee ballots sent back to Erie County would be about half of the total of all absentee ballots in the race from all counties.

In terms of yet-to be-counted absentee ballots returned in other counties, there were 2,223 in Niagara, 961 in Genesee, 531 in Orleans and 511 in Wyoming as of Wednesday. The numbers of absentee ballots in Monroe and Ontario counties are not broken down by congressional district.

Historically, the votes by absentee ballot generally mirror the results seen at the polls on Election Day, Mohr said.

Republican Chris Collins pictured Tuesday night at the Planing Mill in Buffalo, left, and Democrat Nate McMurray pictured Tuesday night at his campaign headquarters in Hamburg. (Derek Gee and Robert Kirkham/Buffalo News)

Collins got 49.4 percent of the votes cast at polls on Tuesday, compared with McMurray's 48.4 percent, according to unofficial results. Three election districts in Erie County still hadn't been reported as of midday Wednesday.

When will we find out who officially won?

The Erie County Board of Elections plans to start opening absentee ballots on Nov. 20, while all the other counties start counting them Nov. 13.

When absentee ballots are counted in the presence of election officials, candidates and campaigns may have representatives present. The ballots can be challenged.

After absentee ballots are counted, officials start the "final canvass," in which paper ballots are reviewed election district by election district. Challenges may be made during that process as well.

Erie County officials typically certify election results near the start of December, Mohr said.

News Washington bureau chief Jerry Zremski contributed to this report.

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