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Sun., Oct. 4
Serving the communities of Massena and Potsdam, New York
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BOE error, redistricting confusion wrongly left 300 out of NY21


Around 300 Republicans who live in the town of Ballston should have been able to vote in the June 26 GOP primary for the House of Representatives, but weren't able to because of a Saratoga County Board of Elections error that stemmed from Albany's last-minute redistricting push.
Roger J. Schiera, the Republican commissioner of elections, said that in the rush to finalize ballots, the board didn't realize that some residents of a tiny sliver of the town of Ballston actually lived within the 21st Congressional District. Republicans Matt Doheny and Kellie Greene faced off in a June primary there to take on Rep. Bill Owens, D-Plattsburgh, in a Nov. 6 general election.
But their names weren't weren't on ballots in the sliver of the village of Ballston Spa that is in the 21st Congressional District, though they should have been. Mr. Doheny won convincingly, so even if all 300 Republicans were able to vote in the election and voted for Ms. Greene, the outcome wouldn't have changed.
"Fortunately in this case, it turns out it was an error that didn't have any impact on the outcomes," said Mr. Schiera. "That doesn't make it OK. But it is a mitigating factor."
This year, the state redrew its legislative boundaries. The Assembly and Senate weren't able to come to a deal on congressional lines, so a court-appointed special master drew them in March. And election boards had to report the results of the April 24 presidential primary in accordance with each new congressional district, Mr. Schiera said, giving them just over a month to figure out the contours of the new map.
Making matters worse, Mr. Schiera said, the maps that were available from the court weren't very detailed, so it was hard to see that part of Ballston Spa is actually in the town of Ballston, not the town of Milton.
And that's how voters in one sliver of the town of Ballston which is supposed to be in the 21st Congressional District were left out. The issue will be resolved by the time the Nov. 6 general election rolls around: The roughly 600 registered voters in the town of Ballston who live in the 21st District will be able to vote in its election.
For the record, if you live in the village of Ballston Spa, you're in the 21st Congressional District. If you live in the town of Ballston, but not the village itself, you live in the district for which Democratic Rep. Paul Tonko and Republican Bob Dieterich are vying.
The issue came to my attention after a reader pointed out that Mr. Doheny didn't name the town of Ballston in Saratoga County when he rattled off a list of 193 towns in the district. Unbeknownst to Mr. Doheny, there are actually 194 towns or parts of towns in the congressional district.
"The punchline here is that you and your reader-observer have done a public service," Mr. Doheny said. "The reason I didn't list it is because it wasn't listed by the Board of Elections."
Mr. Doheny didn't forget Ballston. He just didn't know it was in the district. He assured me that he can, indeed, name all of the towns in NY-21. I believe him.
He is making a swing through Jefferson County today. I'll be there with my iPhone. We'll see if he can do it again.

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