SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — It’s back to counting ballots this week in Onondaga County after COVID-19 sent workers into a two-week quarantine. Because of the delay, many key races are still up in the air. But on Monday, they’re picking right back up where they left off to resume counting.
“We had 57,000 absentee ballots, plus another 2,000 to 3,000 affidavit ballots that needed to be counted,” said Dustin Czarny, the Democratic Elections Commissioner for Onondaga County.
A total of 12 main staffers tested positive for the virus, but Czarny said nobody caught it while counting the ballots. Everyone got tested and went under quarantine once they found out. The two-week pause also halted results for key races, like the 50th Senate district and 127th Assembly race.
“The absentee ballot counting process never envisioned COVID-19. You know and, like a lot of things with our election laws, I imagine that’s going to have to be looked at,” Czarny said.
Starting at 9 a.m. on Monday, those with the board of elections will pick up where they left off with counting ballots. Though they’ve been keeping their distance and limiting capacity in the building, now, they’ll use plexiglass and face shields to be extra cautious.
“We have gotten the parties to agree and the judges agree that we will only have one representative at each table for each party. Plus our two board of elections workers so thats going to significantly cut down on the number of people,” Czarny said.
Though the process was delayed by two weeks, they hope to get everything certified by Friday or Saturday. Plus, Czarny said we could know who’s leading what race in a few days.
Czarny is grateful his staff is coming out of this healthy.
“Election professionals, this is what we live for, we want to get the count done. And we put our lives on hold to do that and then we have to put our lives on hold a little bit more,” Czarny said. “It’s better for us to take the time, get it done right, and have it be certified in a proper way.”
The Board of Elections will be posting their results three times each day on their website. Starting Monday, there will be an update at noon, 4 p.m., and right before they leave for the day.