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Waiting for the final count in close election races

It's getting closer to the end of the election for candidates whose races were close election night Nov. 5.

There are five close races in Erie County, including the supervisor's race in Lancaster and council races in Amherst, Orchard Park, Aurora and the City of Tonawanda.

The Erie County Board of Elections will rule on any challenges to absentee ballots Tuesday, and then will start opening absentee ballots.

Absentee ballots were due Monday. There are more than 5,000 of them countywide, according to Elections Commissioner Ralph Mohr.

The Board of Elections will start the final canvass of all the elections Wednesday. But elections commissioners will concentrate on those where the outcome was in doubt.

"We usually start with the close races," Mohr said. "We're going to see what happens with the absentee count."

It's likely votes will be counted in Amherst first. That's where 48 votes separate Republican Joseph A. Spino Jr. and Democrat Michael R. Szukala for the second seat on the Town Board. Spino leads, 12,838-12,790.

Forty-eight votes also separate the candidates in the City of Tonawanda Third Ward councilman's race. Former Councilman Sean M. Rautenstrauch, a Democrat, is leading former Republican Mayor Ronald J. Pilozzi, 469-421.

The closest race in Erie County is for the second seat on the Aurora Town Board, with two Democrats just 14 votes apart. Luke E. Wochensky had the unofficial lead over James F. Granville, 2,085-2,071.

In Lancaster, two Town Board members are vying to succeed retiring Supervisor Johanna Coleman. Democrat Ronald Ruffino is leading Republican Dawn Gaczewski, 5,830-5,707.

In Orchard Park, newcomer Conor Flynn, a Democrat, holds a 91-vote lead over incumbent Republican Councilman Michael Sherry for a seat on the Town Board. The unofficial tally from election night is 4,203-4,112.

"I have found the absentee vote usually mirrors quite clearly the general election vote," said Amherst GOP Chairman Brian D. Rusk.

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