Monday: Unusually Large Number of Absentee Votes In 21st

News Analysis


A large number of absentee ballots have been sent out - and returned - in the 21st Congressional District.

As of Monday morning, 23,976 absentees had been issued in the 12 counties that make up the 21st. Of that number, 18,335 had been returned. Representatives of several boards of elections described the number of absentees as unusually high.

(One way to look at the high number of absentes sent out and returned is - it's early voting by another name.)

Absentees can arrive at a board of elections as late as November 19, but they have to be postmarked no later than today, November 5.

Could absentees make the difference if the race is close Tuesday night?

Yes, but not easily.

Assuming we end up with 20,000 absentees returned, (that seems reasonable, given that many boards of elections said they hadn't counted Monday's mail yet) a 1.3 percent difference is only 260 votes.

Where did I come up with 1.3 percent? It's the difference between Bill Owens and Matt Doheny in 2010, and it's a little bit more than the one percent difference between the two reported in the latest Seina poll, released last week.

If on election night the same 1.3 percent separates the winner and the loser, and assuming about 277,000 people vote in the Congressional race, the winning difference would be 3,600 votes.

So the candidate who is behind would have to do far better with absentees than he does on election night in order to make up the difference.

Of course, there are a lot of assumptions baked into my example, but the general point remains - we'll have to have a very, very close race Tuesday night for absentees to change things much.

- by Scott Atkinson, WWNY news director








Friday, December 2, 2016
, Watertown, NY

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