Assigned Reading: Recanvassing shows NY-23 race tightens
The special election in New York’s 23rd district attracted national attention. Conservatives celebrated when independent conservative Hoffman forces liberal GOP candidate Scozzafava to drop out of the race. But when Hoffman lost in the general election it was the liberal turn to cheer:
The Right Wingnuts led by Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, and Michelle Malkin lost their self-selected signpost election the 23rd Congressional District in New York. The ultra-conservative Republican candidate Doug Hoffman conceded to Democrat Bill Owens just about a half-hour ago.
That was the response from Zennie62 of the San Fransisco Chronicle.
Not so fast.
First of all–even though Bill Owens has already been sworn in and was one of those 220 votes that got the Pelosi health care bill passed–the election results from NY-23 have not been finalized yet. There is no official winner.
Secondly, it turns out that Hoffman’s concession on the evening of the election may have been premature. The fact that the Owens victory hasn’t been certified isn’t just a technicality. There were numerous reporting errors on the night of the election, and Owens’ lead in the votes has already been cut almost in half since the initial results came in.
Instead of winning by more than 5,000 votes the current total is 66,698 to 63,672: a difference of just over 3,000 votes. What’s more, the errors were concentrated in the most important county: Oswego. Hoffman was expected to win Oswego by a large margin, so when his lead was only 500 votes with 93% reporting, he decided to concede. According to his campaign spokesman “that’s the thing that threw us off”. It turns out this critical decision wasn’t based on reality. It was based on vote reporting mistakes:
Oswego County elections officials blame the mistakes on “chaos” in their call-in center that included a phone system foul-up and inspectors who read numbers incorrectly when phoning in results. Of 245 races in the county — not including the congressional and court races — 84 had incorrect totals reported election night.
Lastly: more than 10,000 absentee ballots were distributed for this race. They have not yet been counted. So depending on how many of them were returned it’s possible – although not likely – that Hoffman is the real winner of NY-23.
According to the communications director for the state Board of Elections:
The key is that Hoffman conceded, which means the race is not contested. However, all ballots will be counted, and if the result changes, Owens will have to be removed.
I do not think that it’s likely that Hoffman will win. And I don’t think that there was any voter fraud going on: just incompetence. But I certainly do think that more of the ballots will come in for Hoffman than for Owens, and so the final margin of victory is going to be even narrower.
And when that margin is so important to understanding the direction in which the GOP should be headed, narrower is better.
Back to that San Fransisco Chronicle blog:
That the 23-rd District of New York is Democratic and moderate Republican country didn’t seem to phase these Couch Potato Conservatives
If the best a Democrat can do with the the backing of a “moderate” Republican in “Democratic and moderate Republican country” is eek out a razor-thin victory against an unknown conservative independent maybe it’s the Democrats and moderate Republicans who should be phased.