Absentee ballot counting halted in Onondaga County because of a COVID-19 exposure

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SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — All counting of the estimated 57,000 absentee ballots in Onondaga County came to a halt Friday because of an exposure to COVID-19.

A text from Onondaga County’s Democratic Commissioner, Dustin Czarny said counting has stopped because of a COVID-19 exposure, and that all ballots are being secured and testing being arranged.

It was Friday morning when the Board of Elections was notified that one of the main employees had tested positive for COVID-19. The person was admitted to the hospital with symptoms.

The employee was last working at the Board of Elections on Thursday, Nov. 5. But it is important to note that this employee was never part of the absentee ballot counting process.

As of Friday, the exposure is only limited to Board of Election staff.

Friday also marked day four of absentee ballot counting in Onondaga County, but when the news broke everyone was sent home immediately.

Both commissioners confirmed that about 30 BOE employees got tested on Friday at the Syracuse Regional Market.

But, until each employee gets their COVID-19 test results back, absentee ballot counting can’t continue.

“We don’t know when the counting will resume,” said Onondaga County Elections Commissioner Dustin Czarny. “It will depend on how quick the tests come back and hopefully the tests will all come back negative. If any employees are positive that’s going to be another situation that we will have to deal with. If the employees come back negative, we hope to have the counting resumed sometime early next week.”

The Board of Elections has counted about 26-thousand of some 57-thousand absentee ballots. Several candidates were awaiting the results of the absentee ballots to determine a winner.

Nov. 28 is the statewide certification deadline. The state Board of Elections and Governor’s Office are aware of the counting pause.

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