Judge orders contested ballots opened; two Dems win town board seats

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POUGHKEEPSIE – A battle over absentee ballots for the Stanford Town Board races has concluded after a court challenge, with Democrats winning two seats.  Dutchess County GOP Elections Commissioner Erik Haight accused his Democrat counterpart, Hannah Black, of criminal behavior over contested ballots last week.

He accused Black of not opening five contested ballots, submitted by Republican voters, challenged by the Democrats, and said her actions warranted felony charges and he planned to ask the Dutchess County District Attorney’s Office to pursue his claim. 

The Republicans had also challenged seven ballots that were submitted by Democratic voters, that were also set aside.

In a court proceeding on Monday, Dutchess County Court Judge Edward McLaughlin ordered the seven Dem ballots to be opened in court.  After they were opened, and the margin of victory for the two Democrats increased, attorney Michael Treybich, who represented the Democrats, withdrew his challenges to the five GOP ballots, which were also opened.  The two Democratic candidates declared victory shortly after the hearing.

“I’m gratified that the court ordered the Board of Elections to count all the ballots which is what has been my position from the onset,” said Haight. “The Democrats tried to pull a stunt to only count the democratic absentees and discard the Republican ballots.  They got caught and the voters of Dutchess County prevailed.”    

Treybich, meanwhile, addressed the court decision saying it “court properly ordered the opening and counting of the seven ballots objected to by the Republicans first since there was no basis for not doing so despite Commissioner Haight’s protests.”

The attorney said, “Once those were counted and it became mathematically impossible for my clients to lose, I withdrew my objections to the last five ballots and they were counted.”