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Recounts under way in razor-thin primary races in Monroe County

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Monroe County elections officials on Tuesday unsealed blue bins full of ballots at a Board of Elections facility in Henrietta for a state-mandated recount in some extraordinarily close primary races.

Lisa Nicolay, the county's Republican elections commissioner, explained that the recount was the result of a new law that prompts a recount if candidates in a race are separated by 0.5 percent or 20 or fewer votes. 

Seven races in the county met that criteria, according to unofficial results of the contests held on June 22.

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," Ortiz said. "So we are hoping that it'll take a little less time than we originally had planned."

Among the seven races in Monroe County requiring a recount were a Democratic primary for County Court judge and a razor-thin Democratic primary in the County Legislature's 24th District in which the candidates are separated by nine votes.

Incumbent County Court Judge Doug Randall, who was challenged by civil rights attorney and Rochester Board of Education President Van White, City Court Judge Caroline Morrison, and public defender Julie Cianca, said he was confident in the process.

“We'll just let them do their job,” Randall said. “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.”

Three of the four candidates in that race 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 being recounted.

Common Ground Health COO Albert Blankley holds a nine-vote lead over 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,” Blankley said.

Barnabas was not available for comment.

The Board of Elections officials said they expect the recount, which is being done by hand, to take a day or two or more.

James Brown is a reporter with WXXI News, a media partner of CITY.
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