While the race to elect a new mayor in Saratoga Springs was decided by a much wider margin, a referendum to adopt a new form of government in the Spa City is still too close to call. Our Matt Hunter explains.
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – By the time the more than 8,300 votes from all 25 of Saratoga's voting districts had been counted late Tuesday night, a referendum to replace the city's century-old form of government was narrowly being supported.
"Last night was a roller coaster night for everyone involved. We were up by 130, up by 40 and then down by 50," said Bob Turner, who chaired the 15-member commission that proposed the new charter. "We're obviously thrilled, but realize there still needs to be the counting of the absentee ballots."
If approved, the new charter would replace the city's commissioner form of government with the city manager style.
"Saratoga Springs voters are really passionate about their city and the future of their city. ... The last 18 months we've been here have been a very vigorous debate,” Turner said.
On Tuesday 4,202 Saratogians voted "yes," a mere 48 more than those who voted "no."
"Obviously, I'd rather be up 48 votes than down 48 votes going into the absentee ballot counting,” said Richard Sellers, a member of the group SUCCESS that opposes the referendum. “That would be the first and most important reaction I think."
Sellers is among those not surprised by how close the vote turned out.
"I felt like it was going to be very close, I think,” he said. “I kept telling people it was going to be 51 to 49 in either direction, so that's about where it came out."
The Saratoga County Board of Elections will begin opening absentee ballots on Tuesday morning. Of the 711 that were sent out, more than 500 had been returned as of Wednesday; a figure that is well outside the current razor thin vote margin.
"We will certainly be there to be watching that process and I think more than anything else, I think we are reminded once again every vote matters," Turner said.
"This is a great example of an old cliché of 'every vote counts' being completely correct," Sellers said.