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Outcome of Central New York's 50th Senate District race hinges on judge's ruling

On the left  John Mannion is siting and wearing a blue suit jacket and tie and on the  right Rebecca Shiroff smiles as she holds a sticker.
Scott Willis/ Rebecca Shiroff Twiitter
WAER News/
Incumbent democrat John Mannion and Republican Rebecca Shiroff are seeking to represent New York's 50th Senate District.

The final result of the 50th Senate District race could come by Friday afternoon when a judge rules on roughly 100 remaining ballots.

Attorneys for Democratic incumbent Sen. John Mannion and Republican challenger Rebecca Shiroff spent all day Wednesday presenting arguments on nearly 200 objected ballots. About 80 votes were withdrawn, and another eight were ruled from the bench. Onondaga County GOP Elections Commissioner Michele Sardo said the process was enlightening.

"Between our county and Oswego County, the objections are pretty consistent from both sides," Sardo said. "What they wanted and what they needed to see happen with the ballots, and it's a good way to get a little more explanation of what can and can't be objected to or should be objected to and voter intent."

Some voters didn't completely fill in the bubbles or left stray marks on their ballots. But Democratic Elections Commissioner Dustin Czarny said most of the ballots were counted.

"I think between the two counties, only 14 ballots were disqualified out of 132,000 ballots," Czarny said. "I don't think the judge is going to throw out a whole bunch more."

Still, Czarny said voters shouldn't write on the ballots or sign them. Mannion is clinging to a 17-vote lead, down from about 50 after the end of a hand recount completed last week. Czarny said he's glad the hand count law is in place, but it could use some changes.

"Mainly, we should've gotten the certification of our initial election first and then proceeded to a hand count," Czarny said. "Trying to do that simultaneously caused a lot of problems with personnel and all of that, trying to get this ready."

Sardo said she has no concerns about the process but expects to see more close races in the future.

"We've never done anything like this before in this amount," Sardo said. "A couple of hundred for a trustee race or council race, but 95,000 ballots was a lot."

Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at