Above: Ed Snow, who lost a village trustee election in Walton earlier this week, argues to the Delaware County Board of Elections that a vote count taken on Tuesday that declared him the winner of a village board seat should stand. Video by Lillian Browne.
The Delaware County Board of Elections stepped in today to recount ballots in the village of Walton, where two counts by village election inspectors yielded two different election results.
But now losing candidate Ed Snow is wishing he hadn't asked the county for a recount.
Moments before the re-count in the contested Walton village election, Snow made a request to withdraw his request for a re-canvas. The request was made when Delaware County Republican Commissioner William Campbell explained that Wednesday’s results were voided, and it was Tuesday night’s results that would be re-counted.
“And thus, those are the results that are being challenged,” Campbell said.
Snow responded, “I am not contesting Tuesday’s results, I am contesting Wednesday’s results.”
Snow was declared a winner of a trustee seat on Tuesday, as the second highest vote getter with 168, putting him four votes ahead of incumbent Al “Tink” Reynolds.
Deputy Republican Commissioner, Robin Alger, then read Snow’s letter which stated that he was contesting the results of the election from March 20, which was Tuesday. Snow stated that he did not really understand the procedure. Campbell said that the Board of Elections is the only organization with the authority to re-canvas results of any election.
Sylvia Fancher, head election inspector for the Walton Village election, said she had asked village election inspectors to re-convene on Wednesday morning to re-count the votes, after Village Clerk Melinda Westcott called Fancher at home to advise her that she had gotten a different total than the inspectors.
John Clark, who won the election by a wide margin, both by Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s count, then asked, “So what was done on Wednesday was null and void? If that’s true, why are we here? So what was done on Wednesday was illegal.”
Campbell said that even if the Commissioners were to leave today, the results from Tuesday's count would still be in contention. “It is logical that we recount.” Campbell said.
At 10:15 AM the commissioners began the recount by going line by line through the poll book verifying signatures, and then counted each ballot individually. During the course of the recount, the Board of Elections voided one of the ballots.
Republican Commissioner, William Campbell, announced before the re-canvas took place that the Delaware County Board of Elections does not have the authority to run village elections, that the village must administer its own election. “There are many different procedures that different villages use, we have no control over that. “
Campbell said that the protocols governing village elections are set by the New York Conference of Mayors (NYCOM), which all villages are supposed to follow. Snow stated that he had contacted NYCOM and they refused to speak with him because he is not an employee of the village. Campbell then suggested that he contact the village’s attorney David Merzig. Snow balked at the suggestion, saying that “the village attorney is at the beck and call of the board.”
The official results that will be certified by the Board of Elections are: John Clark 225, Al Reynolds 179, Ed Snow 171 and Andrew Rutherford 86, making Clark and Reynolds winners of the trustee seats. These results differ from both previous counts, but uphold the results of the village recount on Wednesday, with Clark and Reynolds winning seats on the board.
Campbell stated that if anyone was unhappy with the results of any election that they could file a lawsuit through the New York State Supreme Court.
“This is an antiquated system, I think we all agree on that,” Reynolds representative Bill Rathmell said.