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Election Day

According to the tallies from early voters and Election Day on Tuesday, Ed LaVigne (R)will serve a second term as Lansing Town Supervisor. Andra Benson (D) was also reelected, and newcomer Bronwyn Losey (D) will join the Town Board. Even though electronic voting has been instituted state-wide, the final count from this year's election will not be known for another week and a half or so. The reason is that votes coming by mail have not all arrived or been counted.

As it stands now incumbent Ed LaVigne (R) is 86 votes ahead of challenger Mike Koplinka-Loehr.  Andra Benson (D) and Bronwyn Losey (D) have the most votes for Town Council seats, with the spread between Losey and the next highest vote recipient, Judy Drake (R), is 93 votes.

Elections 2019These results are unofficial, because absentee ballots have yet to be counted.  Tuesday's results include those voters who participated in early voting as well as those who went to the polls on Election Day (November 5th).  The official results will be announced in approximately two weeks.
That said, 139 absentee ballots were sent out, and as of Wednesday about 96 had been received by the Board of Elections.  Not everyone returns absentee ballots they have requested, and it is very unlikely that all 139 ballots would be cast for one specific candidate.  The absentee ballots don't change who wins when the spread is greater than the number of mail-in ballots requested, but many recent Lansing elections have been quite close.  Two years ago Joe Wetmore edged out Robert Cree with just three votes (1555 to 1552).  So while it is not impossible that Koplinka-Loehr or Drake could ultimately win, it is very unlikely based on Tuesday's count.

Town Clerk Debbie Munson (R), Highway Superintendent Charlie C. Purcell (R), and Town Justice John C. Howell (R) ran unopposed, so they retain their positions for another four year term.

The reason it takes so long to report the official election results is twofold: the deadline for the Tompkins County Board of Elections to receive absentee ballots is November 12.  Military absentee ballots must be received by November 18th, so they cannot begin to be counted until November 19th, a week from next Tuesday.  In addition, some votes already counted must be verified.

"Due to new election laws and having to verify voters who have transferred in from other counties who can now vote here, we do not expect to have official results for at least two weeks," explains Tompkins County Board of Elections Deputy Commissioner Kari Stamm. "We need to wait 10 days for other counties to upload their voter histories to make sure people haven't voted in multiple locations before we can begin to process absentees and affidavits."

New equipment and electronic poll book software for signing voters in has also brought some challenges for the Board of Elections, as they work to resolve minor inconsistencies in how the data is reported.

If these results stand the makeup of the Lansing Town Council will remain politically the same, with two Republicans and three Democrats.

The unofficial election results
as of Election Day, Tuesday, November 5, 2019

SUPERVISOR (4 Year Term)

Michael Koplinka-LoehrMichael Koplinka-Loehr (DEM, LL1)



Check Ed LaVigne   Edward J. LaVigne (REP, IND)




(The TWO with the most votes are elected)

CheckAndra Benson Andra Benson (DEM, LL1)



Judy Drake Judy Drake (REP, IND)



CheckBronwyn Losey Bronwyn Losey (DEM, LL1)



Jeffrey Otto Norman  Jeffrey Otto Norman (REP, IND)




TOWN CLERK (4 Year Term)

CheckDebbie Munson Debbie Munson (REP, IND)





CheckCharlie C. Purcell Charlie C. Purcell (REP, IND)




TOWN JUSTICE (4 Year Term)

CheckJohn C. Howell John C. Howell (REP, IND)



This year's election was hard-fought, with what LaVigne characterized as a last minute smear campaign against him.  An anonymous flyer was circulated claiming that a $8,400 contribution to the Lansing Republican Committee had influenced LaVigne's vote to grant a waiver to Lucente's Village Solars project, that would allow a one year delay in building a community center for the residents there.  Nobody took credit for the flyer, but one of Koplinka-Loehr's election mailings embraced it when he claimed LaVigne exhibits disregard for citizens, illegally spends taxpayer money, and was funded by big money.

In contrast, LaVigne based his campaign of a list of accomplishments and results on issues of importance to citizens of both parties.  He said he was innocent of the charge of letting the contribution, which was not to his personal campaign, influence his vote, and offered to go before the Town Ethics Committee to clear his name.

As the vote results came in, the tallies were a bit of a roller coaster ride.  When the early votes were reported Tuesday evening, the Democrats were sweeping the election.  Koplinka-Loehr was ahead 278 to 187, and Benson and Losey had the two highest vote counts for Town Council.  Then with four of Lansing's seven districts reporting, the Republicans appeared to be winning.  But when the final votes were reported shortly before 11pm, the tally showed LaVigne ahead in the Supervisor race, with Benson and Losey leading for the two Town Board seats.

Around midnight Drake posted a statement on Facebook: "Thank you Lansing residents for your support over the last few months while I was campaigning. Close but not a victory for me. Of course very upsetting but "it is what it is".  Congratulations for re-electing Edward LaVigne as Town Supervisor. Congratulations to Andra Benson for re-election and Bronwyn Losey as a new board member."

Lansing used to have a reputation as a bastian of Republican voters, but it hasn't been that way for many years.  Of the 7,448 currently registered voters, 3,440 are Democrats, and only 1,842 are Republicans.  That may mean that party line votes drove the Town Council portion of the vote.  The brouhaha over the anonymous accusations brought more attention to the Supervisor race, and may have had a backlash on Koplinka-Loehr's campaign despite the majority of Democrats.  Members of both parties said they supported LaVigne both in Letters to the Editor in this publication, and on social media.

Whether there are or are not enough absentee ballots to make a difference, they are officially counted at the Board of Elections office in Ithaca.  Candidates and their attorneys sit around a large conference table, while Republican Elections Commissioner Elizabeth Cree and Democratic Elections Commissioner Stephen Dewitt open the ballots and make a determination of whether they meet strict criteria for a valid ballot.  They are then passed around the table so that candidates and their lawyers may decide whether to challenge the legitimacy of each vote, and a determination is made.  If it is declared invalid, a ballot is discarded and not counted.

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