WXXI AM News

Some Monroe County primary election results aren’t set in stone yet, thanks to lawsuit

Jul 13, 2021

Credit James Brown / WXXI News

A lawsuit filed Friday will mean some Monroe County primary races can't be officially called yet.

Rochester Board of Education President Van White finished about 300 votes shy of winning one of those races. He was up for one of three spots in last month’s Democratic primary for County Court Judge. Because of a new state law, the close race required a manual recount, which the county board of elections did using machines last week. Seven races met this criteria, including two county legislative races.

But in a lawsuit filed Friday, White argued that the law requires a manual recount by hand. A judge agreed. 

White said Tuesday that his suit is more about the law than himself.

“The law, in my mind at least, was very clear with respect to what a manual recount meant,” said White. “This wasn't just about the Monroe County Court race. This is also about other candidates' races and more importantly, it was about the tens of thousands of citizens whose votes might not be counted.”

White shared an email with WXXI News from state Board of Elections co-chair Douglas Kellner thanking him for the lawsuit. The email reads: “The attention you’ve generated has been very helpful to advance the cause for accuracy, transparency, and verifiability in our elections.”

WXXI News reached out to the state Board of Elections for comment. They have not yet responded.

Monroe County Republican Elections Commissioner Lisa Nicolay acknowledged that the state Board of Elections sided with White. She said they’ll begin the hand count Wednesday to avoid further litigation, even though the local board feels it's unneeded. 

“I don't think that anyone could argue that humans are better at this than machines. Humans make mistakes,” Nicolay said.

“I don't think that people honestly believe that having staff hand-count ballots is accurate, and I also don't think it's an efficient use of taxpayers' money,” she added.

Nicolay estimates that it’ll take up to 10 days to count all 33,000 ballots by hand. She’s expecting teams of two, a Democrat and a Republican, to count each ballot, with a third employee helping them along the way.