CHAR­TER AP­PEARS HEADED TO DE­FEAT

Un­of­fi­cial re­sults: ‘No’ votes lead by 10

The Saratogian (Saratoga, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - By Joseph Phe­lan jPhe­lan@digitalfirstmedia.com

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. » Af­ter the Saratoga County Board of Elec­tions counted over 500 ab­sen­tee bal­lots Tues­day, it ap­pears a slim ma­jor­ity of vot­ers in Saratoga Springs de­cided to keep the cur­rent form of city gov­ern­ment.

The un­of­fi­cial re­sults of the char­ter ref­er­en­dum for Saratoga Springs show 4,458 voted against the pro­posed char­ter for Saratoga Springs, while 4,448 voted to adopt the coun­cil-man­ager form of gov­ern­ment — just a 10-vote dif­fer­ence in the con­tentious race.

There are not many votes that re­main to be counted.

The county sent out 18 mil­i­tary bal­lots that have to be re­turned by Nov. 20.

How­ever, so far none have been re­turned.

Five bal­lots through­out the day were put aside and not in­cluded among the un­of­fi­cial to­tal. Of­fi­cials said the rea­sons for that vary — for ex­am­ple, the bal­lots could con­tain stray marks.

Of­fi­cials said the bal­lots will be set aside for three days. Af­ter that, the Board of Elec­tions or a court judge will de­ter­mine if the bal­lots should be counted, of­fi­cials said.

“It was or­derly. It was ex-

tremely well done by process,” said Richard Sell­ers, of SUC­CESS, a group against the pro­posed char­ter. “Peo­ple on all sides were re­spect­ful.”

The cur­rent char­ter, un­der the com­mis­sion form of gov­ern­ment, has an elected mayor and four elected com­mis­sion­ers who serve as mem­bers of the city coun­cil and su­per­vi­sors of spe­cific de­part­ments.

The pro­posed char­ter calls for a coun­cil-man­ager form of gov­ern­ment, which would in­clude a sev­en­mem­ber coun­cil that solely acts in a leg­isla­tive ca­pac­ity, and an ap­pointed city man­ager who would run the day-to-day op­er­a­tions of city hall. The pro­posed char­ter would go into ef­fect Jan­uary 2020.

“The char­ter pro­posal was a peo­ple’s cam­paign, and we had against us the lead­er­ship of both ma­jor po­lit­i­cal par­ties and the gov­ern­ment of Saratoga Springs, and we got it to a draw, so I think there’s some­thing there to be proud of, some­thing to build on,” said Gor­don Boyd, for­mer trea­sure of the Char­ter Re­view Com­mis­sion. “I hope that con­tin­u­ing to ex­am­ine the va­lid­ity of the bal­lots that have been cast might get us up on top, but cer­tainly this is an is­sue that re­ally en­gaged every­one in Saratoga Springs, and I think that’s some­thing the com­mu­nity can be happy about.”

Now the city waits for an un­known amount of time.

“At the end of the process, it may take an­other cou­ple of weeks, we will know a valid re­sult is and I’m sure everybody will agree it was fairly counted. I have con­fi­dence,” said Boyd. “This is a good Board of Elec­tions. They’re very open and trans­par­ent.”

JOSEPH PHE­LAN — JPHE­LAN@DIGITALFIRSTMEDIA.COM

Dozens watched as over 500 ab­sen­tee bal­lots were counted Tues­day.

JOSEPH PHE­LAN — JPHE­LAN@DIGITALFIRSTMEDIA.COM

Early Tues­day morn­ing in the room where ab­sen­tee bal­lots were counted.

JOSEPH PHE­LAN — JPHE­LAN@DIGITALFIRSTMEDIA.COM

Ab­sen­tee bal­lots were counted Tues­day at the county’s Board of Elec­tions build­ing.

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