Board of Elections Changes Story — Says No Coin Toss for O’Town Supervisor Race

It’s hard to get a straight answer in this county!

Last week the Rockland County Times reported that the Orangetown supervisor’s race would be decided by a coin toss or other game of chance should the final vote tally end in a tie. This information was provided to the newspaper by the Board of Elections. However, the newspaper has since learned the coin toss rule only applies for villages, not for town council or higher levels of government.

In the event of a tie, the election will be determined by vote of council. Since the council is 4-0 in favor of Republicans, that would mean a victory for Walter Wettje, currently trailing Andy Stewart 6,161 to 6,158.

The issue of what to do in the event of a tie is still quite relevant as Judge Victor Alfieri discarded six of the 12 remaining unopened absentee ballots in the case, and a tie is not out of the realm of possibility. Incumbent Supervisor Stewart retains a three vote lead in the race, however the six remaining ballots are assumed to be Republican-leaning (hence why Stewart challenged them), so Wettje is still in good shape to win.

If one of the final six ballots is blank or a deficient ballot and the other five register 4-1 in favor of Wettje, a tie will be the result of the election. Also if there are three blank or deficient ballots and the remaining three are all in favor of Wettje, it also will be a tie.

Of the six remaining ballots to be counted, five are from Pearl River and one from a patient at Rockland Psychiatric Hospital. The ballots will be counted Wednesday at 11:30 a.m. It is possible that the validity of the votes can be challenged State Appeals court, if either candidate is unsatisfied with the Board of Elections ruling on whether the votes are valid.

Wettje had been ahead by 36 votes following Election Day, however, as each round of absentee ballots has come in, Wettje’s lead has shrunk. Ultimately Wettje sought to disquality 42 unopened ballots as being invalid for various reasons, however Judge Alfieri allowed all 42 to be counted. Stewart earned a 30 – 9 margin (three ballots were blank for the supervisor’s race) to take a three vote lead.

Regardless of the outcome, appeals of the final vote counts are expected to be presented to the NY Court of Appeals. With holidays cramping judicial schedules, t may be close to swearing-in day before the election is finally settled.

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