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Livingston County BOE: Mistakes were made

Geneseo, N.Y. -- A day after the conclusion of Livingston Countys sheriff primary, there were winners, but no definitive losers. Sheriffs Investigator Thomas Dougherty won the Republican line by 157 votes. His opponent, Undersheriff Jim Szczesniak won the Conservative line by one vote. On Tuesday, at least 59 ballots were mistakenly given to voters regardless of their party affiliation, according to the Board of Elections.

They should have been given specifically to registered Republicans and Conservatives. Anxiousness to get everything up and running may have led to the errors in Geneseo and Caledonia, said Nancy Leven, Republican Commissioner for the Board of Elections.

The mistakes occurred at two different polling sites, according to the BOE, Caledonias JW Jones Hall and Geneseos Morgan Estates. Elections inspectors at the two sites notified the BOE of the mistakes Tuesday, and both candidates were notified at the same time, according to Leven.

I think that both guys are good men who would represent the community in a good way, said Sharon Hinkle of Geneseo. I think its sad it came down to this.

It is unclear how the 59 votes were cast, as they remain sealed in bags and locked up in a room within the BOE office. The key for the room where the ballots are being housed is with the sheriffs office.

Tuesday night, representatives with Doughertys camp and the BOE agreed to place the key within a ballot bag, signed and sealed, and have that bag dropped into another bag which was also signed and sealed. No one from Szczesniaks staff was present, but he said he trusts the BOE to handle the security of the ballots.

It is troubling to think that those ballots were given to the wrong people, said Jason McGuire, Chairman of the Conservative Party of Livingston County. I do not believe that there was a malicious intent involved in this at all.

The candidates could opt to have a judge oversee or handle the ballot-by-ballot check, according to Leven. Neither candidate has filed paperwork to involve a judge.

It seems like just last year with the DAs race, it ended up in court, it just stalls everything and I dont think thats good for anybody, said Dougherty.

It isnt done so we need to sit back and understand whats going on before we make those decisions, said Szczesniak.

An audit is scheduled for Monday. At that time the ballots are expected to be unsealed.

The ballots have not been certified yet, that may be still be more than a week away, according to Leven.

There were still 85 absentee ballots yet to be counted as of Wednesday afternoon.

Evan White, 13WHAM-TV
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