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UPDATE #4 - The MSM finally gets it, but even then, their numbers are off by 900%.

UPDATE #3 - Tedisco challenges 11 times more ballots than Murphy in Columbia county.

UPDATE #2 - Murphy's lead grows to 167 with nowhere to go from here but up.

UPDATE #1 - Yesterday's court ruling cuts the pile of previously "challenged" or "set-aside" ballots by over 1000. Murphy attorney's think that about 60% of the 1000+ ballots to be counted were "set-aside" by Tedisco's team, so they should favor Murphy even more dramatically than the abstentee count has so far.

In the Special election for the NY-20 congressional seat, Scott Murphy (D) currently leads by 86 votes and that includes the results from Saratoga county and most of the Military, Overseas and Federal ballots, so that number is very likely to only increase from now on, starting in an hour as some of the results of yesterday’s counting gets released and posted on the State Board of Elections’ website here:

http://www.elections.state.ny.us/

More good news below the fold...

LEGAL ARGUMENTS

It looks like all, or most, of the legal rulings made concerning this election are going to be made by Judge James Brands, at least in the near future.  His reputation is not the best for fairness to Democrats in ballot counting cases, but this case is a million times higher profile than the others he has helped out his GOP buddies on, and it’s unlikely that he’ll be too blatant in his aid to Tedisco.

Yesterday morning, there were two main issues that were argued in front of Judge Brands:

From the Times Union:

Brands will rule whether an absentee ballot should be counted or set aside when both county election commissioners overrule a candidate representative's objection. Democrats claim Republicans have broken the law by insisting these ballots be set aside indefinitely.

Second, the judge is expected to decide whether or not poll watchers can look at absentee ballot applications at the counting table — another practice Democrats object to.

And last night we had Judge Brands’ rulings:

"When there is a challenge and the commissioners overrule the objections, the ballot should be canvassed and counted," said Henry Berger, Murphy's lawyer.

Brands ruled that those ballots will be counted and ruled campaign workers cannot view ballot applications during the re-canvassing.

Wow, to his credit so far, Brands appears to be ruling appropriately and promptly.  Let’s hope that remains the case as he starts reviewing the challenged ballots that remain after the batch from his first ruling gets counted.  This ruling could be very big.  As you would expect, the most frivolus challenges are those in which the two county commissioners disagree with campaign lawyers.  So this ruling alone might push Murphy’s lead up by another 200 or 300 votes.  UPDATE #1 - It looks like the ruling on the "Set-aside" ballots is going to effect more than 1000 of the 2000 still uncounted ballots.  Counting those ballots should be going on today in every county.

http://lohud.com/...

Here are some other great links for info about the ongoing legal issues:

http://www.timesunion.com/...

http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/...

http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/...

http://www.saratogian.com/...

http://www.dailygazette.com/...

http://www.cqpolitics.com/...

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/...

And some links to some great related KOS diaries:

http://www.dailykos.com/...

http://www.dailykos.com/...

http://www.dailykos.com/...

http://www.dailykos.com/...

http://www.dailykos.com/...

http://www.dailykos.com/...

MILITARY, OVERSEAS & FEDERAL (MOF) BALLOTS

The lead changed a bit yesterday as most of  the military, federal and overseas (MOF) ballots were counted by Delaware, Otsego, Greene, Saratoga, Warren and Washington counties.  It’s clear that the MOF ballots did not favor Tedisco in any signifigant way (as he had been hoping and claiming that they would).  Most of the counts for these MOF ballots have not been reported separately from the other absentee ballots, but it’s clear from the counties that did report them separately that they did not provide Tedisco with the big gains he needed to stay in the race.

CHALLENGES AND CURRENT PROJECTION SUMMARY

With 82% of all outstanding absentee ballots examined, my county by county projection shows that Murphy is expected to win the absentee ballot count by 705 votes.  Tedisco’s only remaining hope, is to somehow manage to get about 650 valid votes for Murphy removed from the count.  To that end, his attorneys in the three remaining counties are now challenging more than 50% of all the remaining ballots and slowing down the process so that it might take several more days to finish the counting.

We are looking at a conclusion just like in the MN Senate race.  A very small lead for Murphy, with some 2000 (mostly legitimate) challenged ballots that heavily favor Murphy.  When those challenged ballots are finally admitted and counted, Murphy’s lead will increase greatly.

Using what little accurate data we have. Murphy will win by about 640 votes after all the absentee, federal, overseas and military ballots are counted and all the challenges are resolved.  This is, of course, assuming that no judge or court anywhere along the way makes any major rulings that change existing New York election law.

BACKGROUND

Here is some background for people that are new to this election count:

Murphy ended up trailing the Republican, Jim Tedisco, by 65 votes after the election day votes were counted.  It was known that Murphy was going to gain some votes when the 7141 absentee (including MOF) ballots were counted, but not how many.  Linear projections using the election day results in each of the ten counties suggested that he would gain about 100 votes from the absentee count (including losing much of his gains from the MOF ballots.  A net gain of one hundred votes would be enough to take the lead and win the election.

Now with more than 82% of the absentee ballot count reported, it’s clear that Murphy is doing much better than that projected total.  So well, in fact, that Tedisco’s team has started the old trick (ala MN Senate race) of challenging hundreds of absentee ballots that are very likely to be votes for Murphy.  This is giving the illusion that the race is much tighter than it really is, until these challenged ballots are finally adjudicated by a judge and get counted.

So what do the numbers look like now?

There are ten counties in the district:

Country, number of absentee ballots, % of election day vote for Murphy

Columbia, 984, 56.29%
Delaware, 290, 49.83%
Dutchess, 680, 51.51%
Essex, 173, 55.29%
Greene, 457, 44.43%
Otsego, 169, 48.76%
Rensselaer, 457, 48.49%
Saratoga, 1841, 45.85%
Warren, 1053, 55.76%
Washington, 622, 56.63%

So you can see, five counties went for Murphy and five went for Tedisco.  Tedisco’s absentee strongholds are Saratoga and Greene counties, and Murphy’s are Columbia, Warren and Washington.

With Delaware, Essex, Greene, Otsego, Saratoga, Washington and Rensselaer counties finished their count (except, for some unknown reason, the 38 MOF ballots in Essex and Rensselaer counties), and partial results in from the other three counties, Murphy has gained 151 so far, to hold a 86 vote lead.  A quick look at the results makes it clear that Tedisco has virtually no chance.  All of the three remaining counties are in Murphy territory and Murphy’s lead can only get larger at this point.  Tesdisco’s only way to even appear to be leading is to challenge a very high percentage of Murphy’s vote.

Murphy is doing much better with the absentee ballots counted so far than would be predicted by the election night rates in each county.  It appears that Murphy supporters used absentee voting in a higher rate (about 5% higher) across the board, than Tedisco voters.

CURRENT STATUS AND PROJECTIONS

Where we are now?

The counties have combined the regular absentee ballot counts with the MOF ballot counts so that the two can not be tracked separately anymore.  So, there are now a total of 7141 absentee ballots that we started with.  Of these:

106 have been declared void
1688 have been challenged
  726 by Murphy
  962 by Tedisco
2114 were counted for Murphy
1963 were counted for Tedisco
1270 are left to be counted
  Columbia, 442
  Dutchess, 222
  Essex, 9 (MOF only)
  Rensselaer, 29 (MOF only)
  Warren, 568

And the final results as best they can be projected with all the challenges screwing up the data:

County, Murphy, Tedisco, Void

Columbia, 627, 351, 74
Delaware, 158, 142, 23
Dutchess, 375, 320, 52
Essex, 99, 70, 13
Greene, 217, 232, 34
Otsego, 74 87 12
Rensselaer, 231, 221, 34
Saratoga, 893, 909, 135
Warren, 642, 387, 77
Washington, 357, 249, 46

Total, 3673, 2968, 500

Murphy absentee net gain = 705
Tedisco lead in the machine count = 65

Murphy wins by 705 – 65 = 640

WHAT TO LOOK FOR TODAY

Murphy’s lead will only grow as the results roll in from the last three counties (Columbia, Dutchess and Warren).  Results are also expected for the 38 MOF ballots in Essex and Rensselaer counties).  Other than that, we may see new results coming in from all counties as they count some of the absentee ballot that were previously "set-aside" but not legally challenged.  The only other news concerning the numbers that matter very much are about how many challenges were made in each county and how many from each candidate’s side.  Murphy’s lead will only increase as ballots from these counties and the "set-side" ballots everywhere are counted.  It would also be nice to see some numbers of how many ballots in each county have been declared void.

The important news items are now the legal rulings that are expected from Judge Brands this week concerning the challenged ballots.  Particularly the issue about challenges of voters with more than one residence.  If the judge rules those challenges out-of-bounds as well, then the count will be virtually over.

I’ll update this diary with new numbers, news about the legal rulings and other updates today as they come in.  I expect to see some numbers in just a few minutes as the State Board of Elections posts their daily 10:00 AM count update.

UPDATE # 2

New results from Columbia, Dutchess and Warren counties were reported in the 10:00 AM update from the New York State Board of Elections.  All three counties are still counting, but Dutchess has only 84 ballots left to count, so one would think they might be finished later today.  No results from the 38 MOF ballots from Essex and Rensselaer counties.  No results from any newly counted "set-aside" ballots that the court ordered counted yesterday.

The results are now exactly as the model is predicting.  With the new data added, the projection is virtually the same.  Murphy will gain 709 votes in the absentee count and win the election by 644.  The stablity of the model with this update indicates that the number of ballots being challenged has either declined or is no longer increasing.  That makes sense after yesterday's court ruling that effectively said that one campaign can not challenge a ballot if the two county officials disagree.  One would expect the number of challenges to drop signifigantly and for Murphy's lead to continue to grow.  There does not seem to be anyplace that Tedisco will manage a net gain in votes from now on, so Murphy's lead will only continue to grow.

UPDATE #3

TMP seems to have a man on the inside in Columbia county and again has some data on how many ballots there have been challenged and by whom.

http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/...

The numbers from Columbia County, for example, show that there have been 249 ballots challenged by the Tedisco campaign, compared to only 22 from Murphy. There are 740 challenges in the Tedisco stronghold of Saratoga County, but it's not been publicly disclosed what the breakdown is of who challenged how many ballots.

Overall, it seems like more ballots were challenged by the Tedisco camp across the district than were challenged by Murphy.

So it looks like Tedisco might even loose votes in his stronghold of Saratoga county in the days to come as ballots for Murphy that his team "set-aside" are counted.

Update #4

Here is a late breaking report from MSNBC.

http://firstread.msnbc.msn.com/...

A good report except for this:

The increase in Murphy's numbers today reflect changes from Columbia, Warren and Dutchess, Conklin said. Yesterday Dutchess County Supreme Court Justice James V. Brands, ordered that 100 challenged ballots district-wide be included in vote total.

As has been reported here and elsewhere, that number of previously challenged ballots now cleared to be counted is about 1100, not about 100.  Kudos for MSNBC for trying.

And while we're at it, does anyone want to try to spot the error in this report:

http://blogs.timesunion.com/...

In the new figure, Delaware, Greene, Otsego, Saratoga, Warren, and Washington counties have tallied up all uncontested paper ballots (including military and overseas ballots).

Columbia, Dutchess, and Rensselaer continue their paper ballot count.

Hint: check the official, unofficial tally sheet:

http://www.elections.state.ny.us/...

Update #5

Yes, for the record, it's embarrasing being from Texas this week.  First Cowboy Mission-Accomplished-Bush, and now Chief-Good-Hair-Crazy-Talker.  Hey, don't blame me, I moved here after the crazies took over.  I hear it used to be a nice place before the statewide per capita IQ dropped below 88 back in the late 80's

Update #6

Final update of the day.  The 4:00 PM count update from the New York State Board of Elections is up.

http://www.elections.state.ny.us/...

Murphy's lead grows to 178, exactly as expected.

Two more counties finally finish their counts:  Essex and Rensselaer finally counted their 38 MOF ballots.  That leave this:

County, Approx # of challenged ballots, Approx # remaining to examine.

Columbia, 271, 157
Delaware, 17, 0
Dutchess, 161, 30
Essex, 24, 0
Greene, 31, 0
Otsego, 53, 0
Rensselaer, 11, 0
Saratoga, 740, 0
Warren, 239, 417
Washington, 192, 0

Total, 1739, 604

So that leave about 2343 ballots to be either officially voided or counted.

And we have conflicting news reports that Judge Brands' rulings from yesterday require either 100 or 1100 of those 2342 to be counted now.  If that is what the ruling was supposed to say, then no one seems to be in hurry to count them because none of the ten counties spent any time today doing it (despite five of the ten counties having so few challenged ballots that they could easily count them in one day).

So anyway, here are the new projections:

County, Murphy, Tedisco, Void

Columbia, 619, 358, 76
Delaware, 158, 142, 23
Dutchess, 392, 302, 53
Essex, 97, 72, 13
Greene, 217, 232, 34
Otsego, 77 84 12
Rensselaer, 234, 224, 28
Saratoga, 913, 887, 137
Warren, 661, 411, 79
Washington, 360, 246, 46

Total, 3683, 2958, 500

Murphy absentee net gain = 725
Tedisco lead in the machine count = 65

Murphy wins by 725 – 65 = 660

Originally posted to Ken in Tex on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 05:15 AM PDT.

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