Only five votes separate candidates in Phelps highway race

Absentee count takes place Tuesday, Sept. 19, at the Ontario County Board of Elections following last Tuesday’s primary. The only race where absentees will matter is in the contest for Phelps highway superintendent. Unofficial results primary night showed incumbent Terry Featherly outpacing Lee G. Walters by just five votes in the Republican primary, with a 238-233 vote margin.

In that race, 17 absentees and one affidavit will be counted to determine official results, said Michael Northrup, Republican commissioner for Ontario County Board of Elections.

In the countywide Republican primary for Ontario County district attorney, unofficials results showed Jim Ritts beat Kristina “Kitty” Karle with 55 percent of the vote, or with 612 votes more than Karle, who garnered 45 percent. As of Friday, that race had 340 absentee ballots that will be counted to determine the official tally.

Running as well on the Reform line in the Sept. 12 primary, Karle won that line with 56 percent, or 121 votes, to 43 percent, or 93 votes for Ritts.

Both candidates will be on the November ballot: Ritts on the Republican line and Karle on the Conservative, Independence and Reform lines. In response to the primary vote, Karle indicated she isn’t giving up on the race though she hasn’t spoke specifically about her campaign.

Northup said he knows voters were eager last Tuesday night to see unofficial results in the DA primary. He said the BOE met its target of reporting results on its website before 11 p.m. The DA race results were up at 10:47 p.m.

In comparing Ontario to Monroe County, Monroe uses software that Northup said would cost about $150,000 to buy and then incur additional license fees that could run thousands of dollars annually.

In Ontario County, the process of counting ballots involves several collection points where officials, one Democrat and one Republican, get a memory card and a chain of custody form to transport the card to a pickup point. At these points, materials are checked and signed by Board of Elections agents or law enforcement and then delivered in sealed packets to the Board of Elections office in Canandaigua. Northrup said he stands by the system as the most secure and accurate. He said that a few years ago unofficial results from countywide races could take until after 11 p.m. to report. Since then, the Board of Elections has refined the process to get more deputies for pickup points.

In Wayne County, deputy Republican Board of Elections Commissioner Kelley Borrelli said Wayne uses a system similar to Ontario’s. Wayne County “is on a budget” and couldn’t afford expensive BOE software, she said.