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EXTRA: Final Results

Pat Pryor has won by 7 votes: 743 Pryor, 736 Sigler
Tompkins County Board Of Elections
When election day was done last week Mike Sigler (R) was 23 votes behind Pat Pryor (D).  But with 95 possible absentee ballots and 10 military votes yet to count the jury was still out on who the Town of Lansing's representative on the Tompkins County Legislature will be over the next four years.  By this past Monday 82 absentee ballots had been received, so the candidates, their representatives, and Election Commissioners Elizabeth Cree (R) and Stephen M. DeWitt (D) gathered to count the votes, hoping for a decisive count.  But that was not to be.

By morning's end Pryor was still ahead, but officially only by eight votes, and by Sigler's count there was only a 5 vote difference.  With 13 absentee ballots and 10 military ballots still out that was not enough to declare a winner.  And while DeWitt says that not all absentee or military ballots that are requested are actually mailed, Lansing will have to wait another week to learn who its county legislator will be.
Left to right, sitting around he table: Dave McKenna, Mike Sigler, Robert Cree, Elizabeth Cree, Stephen DeWitt, Mary Russell, Pat Pryor, Irene Stein, Diane Bruns, Dan Konowalo

"I'm more nervous now than I was at the time of the election," Pryor said after the count.  "I think the longer that it goes on the more I think about the huge responsibility that goes with counting the ballots.  It gives me a lot of appreciation for the work that the people here at the Board Of Elections do not only on election day, but all year 'round.  They make sure our democracy works the way it's supposed to."

The count took place at the Board Of Elections conference room.  A long table is set up with Commissioners Cree and DeWitt at one end.  Republicans sat together on one side and Democrats on the other, like the bride and groom sides at a wedding.  Sigler was joined by Town Councilman-elect Robert Cree and County Legislator-elect Dave McKenna.  Pryor was joined by Tompkins County Democratic Party Chair Irene Stein, Pryor's campaign manager Dan Konowalo, and attorneys Diane Bruns and Mary Russell.

Cree and DeWitt first certified that the election day votes were correct.  There was a question about whether Pryor had recieved 168 votes in District 3, or whether the '8' was a '3.'  The paper record taken from the voting machine was consulted and it was confirmed that it had recorded 168 votes.

For each of the five Lansing Town Districts that vote for the County District 6 Legislator, the sealed envelopes were passed around the table for inspection.  Each side had a chance to eliminate an envelope if it was not filled out or dated correctly.  Once that was complete the envelopes were opened and the ballots were similarly passed around to be accepted or challenged.  Finally those that were accepted were counted and the results announced.

Democrats challenged three of the 82 votes, but Sigler says he doesn't think the challenges will stand.

"One was that the check mark wasn't quite in the box, but it touches the box," he noted.  "I think the voter's intent there was pretty clear.  The other was that somebody didn't date it, but it has a time stamp from the Board Of Elections, and it also has a postmark.  We didn't challenge anything.  Everything seemed aboveboard."


At this stage the vote stands at 742 for Pryor and 734 for Sigler.  The deadline for receiving absentee ballots was Tuesday, but the deadline for military votes is next Monday, November 16th.  Any votes that arrive within the deadline will be added to the tally then.  Sigler is taking a wait and see attitude.

"I think you really did have a big difference between the candidates in this race," he said.  "There is no question that over the last four years I have been the fiscal hawk on the Legislature.  So if people vote against me I have to guess that they are saying services are more important, that they're willing to pay higher taxes to preserve those services."

While the Village of Lansing has been more aligned with Ithaca the Town outside of the village has been traditionally Republican.  Both candidates noted that has changed in recent years.

"There are more Democrats registered in the Town of Lansing -- excluding the Village -- than there are Republicans.  It is what it is.  So again, you have to go out and you have to win every vote.  This race is very close, five votes.  I did the best I could in the job.  In the last four years I think I did a good job for the people of Lansing.  Half the people thought so.  I guess the other half want something different."

"I think there has been a shift taking place over the past ten or fifteen years in Lansing," Pryor said.  "It was more heavily Republican at one time than it is now.  In talking to people during my campaign it seemed to me there was less connection with a particular party than there was with a message.  People were interested in what your position was on the issues, and how you were going to go about doing the job was very important to people.  The actual numbers are equally divided now, but I still  think it's important who you are and what message you carry to the voters.  That makes a lot of difference."

On Monday the final numbers will be tallied and Cree and DeWitt will determine whether to accept or reject the challenged votes.  Only then will Lansing know for sure who will represent the town on the County Legislature.

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