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300 voters in Saratoga County disenfranchised because of redistricting delays

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About 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 some residents of a sliver of the town of Ballston live in the 21st Congressional District. Republicans Matthew A. Doheny and Kellie A. Greene faced off in a June primary to take on Rep. William L. Owens, D-Plattsburgh, in a Nov. 6 general election.

But their names weren’t on ballots in the section 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,” Mr. Schiera said. “That doesn’t make it OK. But it is a mitigating factor.”

This year, the state redrew its legislative boundaries to account for shifts in population. 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 boards of election 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, the maps available from the court weren’t very detailed, said Jerry O. Eaton, the Jefferson County Republican elections commissioner who is the president of the state Election Commissioners Association.

He said officials in Oswego County also complained about the lack of detail on the maps.

The Election Commissioners Association has pushed the state Legislature to resolve redistricting earlier, rather than later. The Legislature ended up not acting at all on approving new maps.

“This is the result of a truncated redistricting process, when neither party can agree on lines and it ends up with a special master,” Mr. Eaton said.

He said this is the first time he has heard of that the 2012 redistricting process has left some voters without the right to vote in the election they’re supposed to vote in.

By the time the Nov. 6 general election rolls around, the matter will be resolved.

The issue came to the attention of the Times 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 and cities in the district in a Web video released by his campaign. Unbeknownst to Mr. Doheny, there are actually 194 cities and towns, or portions thereof, in the congressional district.

“The punch line here is that you and your reader-observer have done a public service,” Mr. Doheny told a Times reporter. “The reason I didn’t list it is because it wasn’t listed by the Board of Elections.”

Mr. Doheny said he can indeed name all 194 towns in the district — and did so in front of a Times reporter after a visit to New York Air Brake in Watertown.

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