After more than 540 absentee ballots were counted on Tuesday, a race to adopt a form of government in Saratoga Springs is still too close to call. As our Matt Hunter reports, those in favor of keeping the current city charter have reason to be optimistic.
BALLSTON SPA, N.Y. – Heading into Tuesday morning, a proposal to adopt a new city charter in Saratoga Springs was leading by a mere 53 votes.
"You know, it could be either way, but it's a squeaker," said Gordon Boyd, a proponent of the charter change who served as treasurer on the Saratoga Springs Charter Review Commission.
After 544 absentee and affidavit ballots were counted at the Saratoga County Board of Elections on Tuesday, the tide has turned, with the referendum now trailing by 10 votes.
That's welcome news to members of the group SUCCESS, which opposes the measure to replace the current commissioner form of government with the city manager style.
"I will celebrate when they say it's over,” said SUCCESS member Richard Sellers, who observed Tuesday’s count. “This is the road to success by SUCCESS, I am hoping."
Before the ballot counting began, a large crowd gathered outside to observe, prompting elections commissioners to move into a larger space in the afternoon.
"We were not anticipating this level of interest and we had to make some accommodations as to find a more accommodating space than this," said Roger Schiera, the county’s Republican election commissioner.
Despite not legally being allowed to participate, among those watching was a private attorney that three members of the City Council voted to hire on Monday. The controversial move has been widely criticized by supporters of the charter initiative.
"I'm not sure what legal redress there might be for what they've done, but we'll be examining our options in the next few weeks to see how to deal with that situation," Boyd said.
While the anti-charter change side does currently hold a 10-vote lead, the race is by no means over, with 18 military ballots still outstanding. While zero had been returned as of Tuesday evening, they have until Monday to be returned to the Board of Elections.
"There's certainly enough to influence the outcome," Boyd said.
"I'm remembering my favorite philosopher Yogi Berra: 'It ain't over 'til it's over' and it's not over yet,' " Sellers said.