The highly-publicized New York congressional race that had apparently been won by Democrat Bill Owens isn’t over yet -- officially.
On election night last Tuesday, Owens led Conservative Party nominee Doug Hoffman by 5,300 votes, but correcting miscounts has trimmed that lead now to 3,000 votes. The New York Board of Elections will count more than 10,000 absentee ballots before it officially declares a winner for the 23rd district.
Because of Owens 3,000 vote lead and because the special election wasn’t contested by Republicans, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was able to swear in Owens on Friday.
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His vote was crucial in passing the healthcare reform bill last weekend.
John Conklin, communications director for the Election Board, told The Syracuse Post-Standard, "We sent a letter to the (House) clerk laying out the totals. The key is that Hoffman conceded, which means the race is not contested. However, all ballots will be counted, and if the result changes, Owens will have to be removed."
Hoffman’s campaign spokesman Rob Ryan told the paper, "I don’t know if we would have conceded on election night," had the campaign known about the miscounts.
"I’m someone who doesn’t like to look back. But would we have taken longer to make a decision on election night? Probably, if we knew it was only 3,000 votes making the difference."
Ryan admits that Hoffman’s chance of reversing Owens’ lead is remote, but he said the campaign is examining legal options.
“We’re going to see how this week shapes up, and then we’re going to determine what to do."
The approximately 10,200 absentee ballots are now the deciders.
Under a new state law that extended deadlines, military and overseas ballots received by next Monday (and postmarked by Nov. 2) will be counted. Standard absentee ballots had to be returned this past Monday.
The Washington Post reports that officials from both parties say Owens will almost certainly remain the winner.
The race drew national attention when prominent Republicans including Sarah Palin endorsed Hoffman.
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