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McMurray will not concede to Collins, citing 'extensive irregularities'

Citing “extensive irregularities in the voting process,” Democrat Nate McMurray is not conceding defeat to Republican incumbent Chris Collins in the 27th Congressional District election.

McMurray said Wednesday he will consult with his attorneys to determine his next step, despite a Tuesday count of outstanding ballots that Erie County elections officials now say makes it “mathematically impossible” for him to win.

Now McMurray says he will announce his next step on Monday, noting a vote difference with Collins of 0.5 percent that he says would trigger an automatic recount in many counties and states.

“We have seen extensive irregularities in the voting process, especially pertaining to absentee ballots, and there are issues that need to be addressed not only for this election but for all elections in the future to ensure voters are not disenfranchised and that every voice is heard,” he said. “With this election, we are setting the stage for years to come.”

Neither McMurray not his attorney, Joshua E. Dubs, returned phone calls seeking additional information about their objections.

But both of Erie County’s elections commissioners, Democrat Jeremy J. Zellner and Republican Ralph M. Mohr, said they are unaware of McMurray’s objections and that they are satisfied with the process that essentially declared Collins the winner on Tuesday.

“There were no objections that I am aware of,” Mohr said Wednesday. “Now it’s mathematically impossible for him to win. He claims irregularities without specifying what they are. I don’t know where he’s coming from.”

Zellner added that McMurray’s legal team has been present for the entire process of counting outstanding ballots and that no objections were raised. He said only a handful of outstanding ballots in Erie and the seven other counties of the district remain to be tabulated, and that “it doesn’t look like there are enough to make a difference in this campaign.”

A bipertisan team from the Erie County Board of Elections began their count of the 2018 absentee ballots, Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2018. They began with the 5588 ballots from the 27th District. A cart is filled with ballots. These are ballots from Clarence. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

“I haven’t heard from Nate McMurray or his campaign since election night,” Zellner said. “Everything has been public and transparent and any objections to absentee ballots would have been done yesterday, and there were none. It’s a little late to say there were irregularities at this point.”

In his other capacity as Erie County Democratic chairman, Zellner issued a statement earlier Wednesday thanking McMurray for “his extraordinary campaign in the 27th Congressional District and for the many sacrifices of the past six months.”

Both commissioners said McMurray is free to pursue in court a case he has already started, which is the next step in the process of contesting official Board of Elections results.

“He certainly has the ability to present this in court in the case he has already started,” he said.

McMurray, the Grand Island supervisor, appeared to concede on election night before reversing himself and announcing he would hold off until all outstanding ballots were counted. That involved tabulations in each of the eight boards of elections throughout the district, culminating Tuesday with the largest amount collected from Erie County.

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