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Absentee ballot count delayed

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Absentee ballot count delayed
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It has shocked some voters. A knock on the door or a phone call from someone who wants to know how they voted last Tuesday in the race for congress. YNN's Bill Carey says it may be an indication of just how hard-fought the battle may be over counting the votes in the 25th Congressional district.

CENTRAL NEW YORK -- Even as elections workers inventory all the paperwork they'll need to begin their check of the results, the calls were coming in. Voters who had requested absentee or military ballots said they were being contacted by phone and in person by people asking if they voted and how they voted.

For the people in charge of elections, it was something they hadn't seen before. But is it legal?

"I suppose it is. I don't think there's anything wrong about calling people and asking them. I don't think it's very nice, though. And I know that the reaction out here wasn't really supportive of whose ever effort it is. They kind of told them it's none of their business," said Onondaga County Election Commissioner Helen Kiggins.

Even the democratic election commissioner says such contacts seem, to him, to be a mistake.

"It's not like whatever they did is going to change the outcome of the numbers in any of these elections. So you're spending a lot of money and a lot of time and the ballots are already in," said Onondaga County Elections Commissioner Edward Ryan.

The question was who was behind the effort. The campaign organizations for both candidates say their only goal is to make sure that, in the end, every vote cast in the congressional district, is counted.

Republicans denied they had anything to do with the absentee checks.

The Maffei campaign finally admitted to playing a role. In a statement, they claimed, "We have discovered some possible inconsistencies in the election night reporting in addition to some absentee voters who may have been deceased."

They offered no evidence of those claims, but promised to turn over any information to elections officials.

The republican candidate, who currently leads the vote count, says voters who are contacted should know their rights.

"You do not have to respond. You do not have to answer or divulge how you voted. That's very confidential information," Congressional candidate Ann Marie Buerkle.

Buerkle says she finds the effort, offensive.

The Maffei campaign has already gone to court seeking a full recount of all votes cast last Tuesday. A judge set that request aside as elections officials begin to perform so-called audits of their voting machines to see if the results are reliable.

The judge also reset the schedule for counting of absentee ballots. Cayuga County will do its count on Wednesday. Monroe County on Friday. Next week, Wayne County will count its absentees on Monday and, on Wednesday of next week, Onondaga County will do its count.

More legal challenges could follow.

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