Votes missing in Rosendale?

Update, 11:45am: The missing votes have been accounted for; new unofficial results show a Republican sweep of town supervisor and town board races.

Poll-watchers in the Ulster County town of Rosendale are reporting that the unofficial results for the local town races appear to be missing between 500 and 600 votes. If so, the missing votes add up to roughly a quarter of the ballots cast.

The discrepancy leaves the outcome of local Rosendale races very much in question. The supervisor's race, between Democratic candidate Jan Metzger and former Democrat-turned-Republican Jeanne Walsh, was a hotly contested race, and the unofficial totals reported on the Ulster County Board of Elections website -- 765 for Metzger, 745 for Walsh -- are very close.

The town board race, in which four candidates were vying for two slots, was similarly close, with just a 38-vote difference between top vote-getter Bob Gallagher (754) and Richard Minissali, who came in last (716).

Ann Citron, chair of the Democratic committee in Rosendale, told the Watershed Post that poll watchers' counts of ballots cast added up to about 2100 votes, but that the Board of Election's vote totals for local races added up to only about 1500 votes.

Even accounting for the fact that not everyone votes in every race, she says, that's a lot of missing votes.

"I think there's some kind of malfunction," she said."Last night when we got the numbers -- they're unofficial, but they're usually pretty accurate -- when we added it up, it didn't make sense."

Rosendale resident Sari Botton reported the apparent vote discrepancy yesterday via the Watershed Post's SeeClickFix widget.

We also spoke with Botton this morning. Botton says that some people are theorizing that perhaps the third-party ballot lines were not counted, but that until the ballots are re-counted, there is no way to know for sure.

"Patrick McDonough, the current town supervisor, theorized that the third party votes might not have gotten counted. Walsh was also running on the Conservative Party ticket, and Metzger was also running on the Working Families Party ticket," she said.

Metzger's campaign website is also reporting the issue. From the website:

We do not have any more information about the cause of the discrepancy, but the Ulster County Board of Elections is aware of the problem.  If there was an error with the optical scan machines, the actual paper ballots will be recounted, and that process may take a few days.

Citron said that although there may have been an error in the count, she feels that the state's new optical-scan voting system is a good one.

"I think it's a very good system. All the paper ballots are there. All you do is recanvas them and count them, and you've got your vote," she said.

Until the issue is resolved, Citron said, Rosendale voters will be biting their fingernails.

"We're just trying to guess. That's what you do to fill the time when you are anxious about finding out what the results are," she said. "We all feel strongly about the electoral process, and we want to make sure every vote is counted."