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Close races for Monroe County Legislature and Judge seats spur recounts

James Brown
Monroe County Board of Elections officials move sealed blue ballot bins into place before they are counted.

Monroe County elections officials opened sealed blue bins full of ballots in Henrietta Tuesday for a state-mandated recount. Republican Elections Commissioner Lisa Nicolay said this wouldn’t have happened in previous primaries.

“There's a new law that was buried in last year's state budget that requires boards of elections in New York to recount if there is a margin of 0.5% or 20 votes,” said Nicolay. 

Since the county judge race is that close, it means every vote cast in Monroe County must be recounted. Nicolay said that is more than 30,000 votes including absentees. 

Democratic Elections Commissioner Jackie Ortiz said the process is moving quickly.

“We had estimated a couple of days but the team is really working very hard. So we are hoping that it'll take a little less time than we originally had planned,” said Ortiz.

Seven races in Monroe County, including the Democratic primary for County Court Judge, fit that bill. Incumbent Judge Doug Randall said he is confident in the process.

“We'll just let them do their job,” said Randall. “It's a very professional office from both sides and I'm confident that when they finish their recount, we'll still be in a good position.”

Randall is facing off with civil rights attorney and Rochester Board of Education President Van White, City Court Judge Caroline Morrison, and public defender Julie Cianca. Three of them will advance to this fall’s general election. 

White said he respects his opponents and is proud of his run.

“I'm actually quite honored and humbled that we ran such a competitive countywide race and we're just 300 votes shy of beating or breaking even with a 10-year incumbent,” said White.

The Democratic primary in the County Legislature’s 24th District, which includes parts of the city of Rochester and Brighton, is the tightest of all the races. Common Ground Health COO Albert Blankley holds a nine vote lead on activist and educator Rajesh Barnabas. Blankley said he’s thrilled about the interest in an off-year election.

“We were not expecting this many people to turn out to vote in this district for any of the races, but in particular for this race,” said Blankley.

Barnabas was not available for comment. 

The Board of Elections said it’ll take at least a day or two more to recount all the votes.

James Brown is a reporter with WXXI News. James previously spent a decade in marketing communications, while freelance writing for CITY Newspaper. While at CITY, his reporting focused primarily on arts and entertainment.