HUDSON – The Columbia County Board of Elections released the final results of its hand count of the ballots from the November 2 General Election this week. The tallies, now certified as final, don’t alter the outcome of any of the races, but the counts, which break down the results for each candidate by election district, do provide some insight into voting trends in the county.
Perhaps the clearest message from the election data is that the county remains quite evenly split between the major parties, with voters willing to cross party lines, especially for popular incumbents. Of the 12 contested races last month, starting at the top with the races for governor and U.S. senator down to town board, voters in the county chose 6 Democrats and 6 Republicans, although the outcomes here did not always match the overall result in races for offices in districts that extend beyond the borders of the county.
Voter enrollment statistics show that Democrats have a slight enrollment edge over Republicans in the county, with voters enrolled in no political party comprising the third largest bloc.
The other message from this year’s election is that it apparently helps candidates to live here. Of all the candidates running countywide, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D), a Greenport resident, drew the most support, collecting 14,979 votes in her crushing defeat of her little-known Republican challenger, former downstate Congressman Joe DioGuardi. She even outpolled her Democratic colleague and mentor, New York’s popular senior senator, Charles Schumer (D), who received 14,153 votes. Both senators handily won their races statewide.
The other hometown favorite is the new Congressman-elect for the 20th District, Chris Gibson of Kinderhook. He prevailed here over incumbent Democrat Scott Murphy by just over 1,000 votes out of nearly 24,000 votes cast, with the final count in the county 12,377 for Mr. Gibson versus 11,358 for Mr. Murphy. Despite the tightness of the race here, Mr. Gibson won the 10-county district by a comfortable margin, with 55% of the total count.
Less than two years ago, Mr. Murphy won election to the seat vacated by Ms. Gillibrand when he eked out a victory by a margin of about 700 votes during a prolonged recount in Columbia County.
County voters chose Andrew Cuomo for governor over Republican Carl Paladino, 13, 952 to 8,402, with none of the five other candidates in the crowded field picking up more than a few hundred votes. And following the state pattern, county voters also chose Eric Schneiderman as attorney general. But voters here rejected incumbent Democratic Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, though downstate support led to Mr. Di Napoli’s overall victory in the election.
The biggest voter support in county races went to incumbent County Clerk Holly Tanner, who easily turned back a challenge from Peter Donahue of Stuyvesant. The vote in that race was 14,519 to 8,687, making Ms. Tanner the second highest vote getter in the county in the November election.
A race that seemed too close to call election night did not turn out to be quite as tight as it seemed last month, with Democrat Roberta Davis defeating Republican Deborah Simonsmeier for the new post of third county coroner. The candidates were separated by 449 votes in the final count, with Ms. Davis receiving 11,379 to the 10,930 votes received by Ms. Simonsmeier.
There was one race decided by fewer votes, the contest to fill a vacant seat on the Chatham Town Board between Republican Tom Meyn and Democrat Bob Balcom. Mr. Balcom, who indicated shortly after the polls closed that he probably had lost, declined to concede as long as the hand count was going ahead. A few weeks ago, he did acknowledge the outcome, which the Board of Elections now confirms as 936 for Mr. Meyn versus 881 votes for Mr. Balcom, a 55-vote difference.
In the state Senate race for the 41st District, which covers all of Columbia and most of Dutchess County, incumbent Steve Saland prevailed in this county over Democrat Didi Barrett by a vote of 13,706 to 9,471. Mr. Saland’s 60% of the vote here was repeated in Dutchess County.
The 103rd state Assembly District comprises the city of Hudson and the towns of Ancram, Austerlitz, Canaan, Claverack, Copake, Ghent, Greenport, Hillsdale and Stockport in Columbia County and 12 Dutchess County towns, including Red Hook, Milan, Millerton and Pine Plains and most of the eastern side of that county stretching south to the Putnam County border. The race there was won by incumbent Republican Marcus Molinaro over Democrat Susan Tooker, with Mr. Molinaro receiving 6,713 votes in Columbia County against 4,377 for Ms. Tooker. That was roughly the same 60% margin achieved by Mr. Saland in the county, although Mr. Molinaro won by a larger margin overall, garnering almost 67% of the total vote.
Assemblyman Tim Gordon, a member of the Independence Party who caucused with Assembly Democrats, lost his bid for a third term in the 108th District, but he won in the overall vote tallied for the four towns along the northern border of Columbia County that are part of the district. The vote in Columbia County was 3,696 for Mr. Gordon and 3,574 for his Republican challenger, now Assemblyman-elect Steve McLaughlin. Mr. Gordon did not issue a concession statement , but the results published by the state show that despite his narrow win in this county, he lost by a much larger margin in Rensselaer County, and his total votes from the sections of Albany and Greene counties that are part of the district were not enough to prevail. Mr. McLaughlin, who lives in Rensselaer County, won overall with 53% of the vote.
In that close race in particular, third party ballots did play a role in determining the outcome in Columbia County communities. Mr. McLaughlin led Mr. Gordon by 11 votes in a strict Democratic-versus-Republican match-up. But while Mr. McLaughlin had strong support on the Conservative Party line, that was offset by votes cast for Mr. Gordon on the Independence and Working Families Party lines.
Although raw voting machine tallies were issued on Election Night, both the Democratic and Republican county elections commissioners decided that the new optical scan voting machines were not reliable enough to allow them to certify the final results. It took the Board of Elections a month and a half to certify the final results.
The results are now posted on the county Board of elections website, www.columbiacountyny.com/depts/elections/county2010.html.