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The Count Has Begun: Albany Democratic Primary Absentee Ballots

Absentee Ballot Return Envelope
Christopher Chen-Lumachrome/Flickr
Absentee Ballot Return Envelope

Absentee ballot counting began today as four candidates in two Democratic primaries in the Capital Region await the final tally.
Albany County District Attorney David Soares and New York State Assemblyman John McDonald both feel confident they will prevail in the Democratic primary against respective challengers Matt Toporowski and Albany County Legislator Sam Fein. Those challengers are just as confident they can stage upsets. The pandemic pushed many voters to file absentee ballots, which has led to speculation that the machine count may have lost its belwhether status. Soares, a four-term incumbent, was leading Toporowski, a former prosecutor in his office, by more than 1,100 votes. Here’s Soares:

"Prior history demonstrates that absentee ballots tend to reflect the same trend that you see at the machine. And I think what the difference here is, the fact that we have more volume. So we anticipate the same outcome once the ballots are counted."

More than 20,000 absentee ballots must be counted. Toporowski says he is "definitely still hopeful" and that occasionally, absentee ballots favor challengers.

"The winds of change have been blowing here very strongly in the last few months. Certainly during the time period where people were sending in their absentee ballots."

Toporowski says if he doesn't win the primary, he won't continue on the Working Families Party line to November’s general election.

Albany County Board of Elections officials have just begun an absentee ballot count they say will possibly a take week to complete.

About 4800 absentee ballots are out for the 108th district state Assembly race, where McDonald has been ahead of Fein by just a few hundred votes, 1,829 to 1,558. McDonald said Tuesday afternoon the count is progressing but it may take another day or more before it is complete.

McDonald, a former Cohoes mayor, is going for a fifth term in the district that includes parts of Albany, Rensselaer and Saratoga Counties.

"Albany is usually a draw when it comes to this race, but outside of Albany, where the majority of the absentee ballots are, I think they're gonna be even stronger to our campaign, so you know at the end of the day I don't know the total outcome yet."

Fein was elected to the Albany County Legislature in 2015 and is now serving a second four-year term.

"The Board of Elections, we're going to go through a process and they're gonna, y'know, open the ballots and count them. You know, we're gonna be part of that process and respect that process."

As of Tuesday afternoon, unofficially, Soares and McDonald are said to be leading in the absentee ballot counts, according to the BOE.

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