SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) – On Tuesday, the Onondaga and Oswego Boards of Elections started each of their hand counts for the 50th State Senate District, an extremely tight race between incumbent Democrat John Mannion and his Republican challenger, Rebecca Shiroff.

Before the legal hand count for the 50th State Senate District seat got underway, Mannion only had an unofficial 55-vote lead over Shiroff, which is equivalent to a 0.04% margin between the two candidates.

As of 2021, new state election law requires a mandatory hand count when the margin in a race is 0.5% or less, a margin Mannion and Shrioff are well-within.

Every single vote cast in the 50th State Senate District race will be recounted by hand. More than 90,000 ballots will be hand counted by the Onondaga County Board of Elections, about 30,000 for Oswego County. Hand counts have been done before but never on this large of a scale.

“This is a very large scale for Onondaga County. We’ve done village races and a town councilor race, that was within a couple 100, but this is a very large process.”

MICHELE SARDO, (R) COMMISSIONER, ONONDAGA COUNTY BOARD OF ELECTIONS

It’s quite a lengthy, tedious process, but important to declare the winner of the 50th State Senate District.

“When races are this close, the extra time taken to make sure who won the race is important. This process is much longer and we’re not going to have any haste in it. We need to be accurate, and so we’re going to take some time to get this right.”

DUSTIN CZARNY, (D) COMMISSIONER, ONONDAGA COUNTY BOARD OF ELECTIONS

Ten tables filled the room at the Onondaga County Board of Elections. At each table sat one Democrat and Republican BOE (Board of Elections) employee and a representative from each campaign. Ballots were then hand counted and campaigns have the right to object ballots.

When an observer logs an objection, the ballot is held out of the initial count and then brought over to the elections commissioners for a ruling. Rulings are based on the law and internal policies of the Board of Elections.

If both commissioners agree or one commissioner says the ballot counts, it counts. If one commissioner says the ballot doesn’t count, it doesn’t. All objections are held aside and could be brought to the judge when the process is complete.

“We’re looking for that needle in the haystack, but until we get to that needle, it’s pretty cut and dry,” Czarny explained.

 “It’s very tedious. Be patient with us. We will get it done. I took an oath and I have to make sure everything is right.”

MICHELE SARDO, (R) COMMISSIONER, ONONDAGA COUNTY BOARD OF ELECTIONS

It’s still unclear how long the hand count will take, but both the Onondaga and Oswego County Boards of Elections will have a better idea after reviewing how many ballots were gone through on Tuesday.

Both county boards will complete their own internal hand count, report those results to the state, and then the NYS Board of Elections will declare a winner.

Democrats celebrating a successful effort to keep control of the U.S. Senate this year will soon confront a 2024 campaign that could prove more challenging, according to some political analysts.