Absentee ballot counting in Onondaga County has been postponed because of a coronavirus exposure at the Board of Elections.
“It’s 2020 so we’ve had an interesting turn events pretty much every step of this process,” said Onondaga County Board of Elections Democratic Commissioner Dustin Czarny.
According to the county elections commissioners, the person who tested positive was last in the building on November 5. That person was hospitalized Friday and that's when they found out they had COVID-19.
Everyone who was in the building went to get tested, and won't be allowed back inside until they get a negative result.
“With all the people that were coming in and observing the ballots, yes it was a concern,” said Onondaga County Board of Elections Republican Commissioner Michelle Sardo. “Even though everyone had a mask on and made sure everything was wiped down and sanitized. It’s always a concern because you never know.”
The deadline to count these ballots is November 28, and the commissioners say they're more than halfway done.
"We don't know when the counting will resume. That depends on how quick the tests come back and hopefully all the tests come back negative. If they come back positive that's another situation we're going to have to deal with. If the employees come back negative we hope to have the counting resume sometime early next week," said Czarny.
In the meantime, the state board of elections, governor’s office, judges, and campaigns know about the delay, and ballots are safe, officials said.
“We secure the ballots with bipartisan locks on all the doors,” said Sardo. “Our whole office, there’s a fence around our whole office. And Dustin and I can get in.”
There is a plan in place for someone else to step in and certify the results if a commissioner tests positive.
The county is now doing contact tracing to see if any voters were exposed.