Becker keeps judge post after absentee count

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By Brian Sweeney
Incumbent Carl Becker has officially retained his position as Delaware County Judge, following the tabulation of absentee and affidavit ballots.

Official totals provided by the Delaware County Board of Elections on Monday showed Mr. Becker, a Stamford resident, winning, 9,139-8,949, a margin of 190 votes over challenge Gary Rosa of New Kingston

The incumbent Republican led by 175 votes on Election Night, but more than 1,400 absentee ballots and 200-plus affidavit ballots remained to be counted last week.

Mr. Becker has served one 10-year term as County Judge. By state law, judges must retire at age 70, thus the 64-year-old will only be allowed to serve about six additional years.

The county judge race was widely watched as Mr. Rosa, a Democrat, tried to unseat the Republican.
Mr. Rosa, who has a longtime law practice in Margaretville and who has served as a Middletown Town Justice for more than 20 years, focused his campaign around having the proper temperament and judgment for the position.

Mr. Becker campaigned on the experience and knowledge he has gained after serving 10 years as County Judge.

Mixed message
The News was closely monitoring the outcome of the Delaware County Judge race. While no official results could be released until November 19 (the last day for absentee ballots to arrive in the mail) the Board of Elections (BOE) counted the absentee ballots on hand and the affidavit ballots between Tuesday and Thursday.

A BOE inspector told the News unofficially on Thursday morning that the counting appeared to favor Mr. Becker holding onto the lead he had gained in the regular voting.

However, a short time later, Democratic Committee members who were overseeing the ballot counting told the News that an error had been uncovered and it appeared that 200 votes originally tabulated for Mr. Becker were actually cast for Mr. Rosa.

The voting pendulum swung back the other way about an hour later when the Democratic committee members who were monitoring the procedure said that their earlier interpretation was incorrect, although Mr. Rosa still held an advantage.

Later in the afternoon, a Democratic committee member relayed to the News that the counting had concluded and Mr. Rosa held an insurmountable lead of slightly more than 100 votes. Any absentee ballots trickling in by November 19 would not be enough to overcome this lead, he said.

Asked if the count could be verified by the BOE, the committee member said the inspectors had completed their work and gone home, but he provided an assurance the numbers were accurate.
When the News contacted Mr. Rosa, party officials had already told him that he had likely won. Mr. Rosa said he would withhold any comment pending official notification from the BOE.

Based upon the information provided by Democratic Committee members present during the BOE counting process, the News published Mr. Rosa’s apparent victory on its website on Friday afternoon. Even before the story hit the CMN website, word of the voting reversal had begun spreading locally and via Social Media.

By late Friday afternoon, the committee member had called the News back with the word that his vote count figures were erroneous. It now appeared, he said, that Mr. Becker would be the winning candidate. The faulty numbers were reportedly the result of a BOE e-mail that had been misconstrued.

At that point, the story was removed from the News’ website.
Mr. Rosa contacted the paper that evening to relay how the mix-up was explained to him. He conceded that, despite the optimism that had sprouted in the afternoon, it was apparent in speaking with BOE officials, that Mr. Becker had retained a sizeable lead after the absentee and affidavit ballots had been counted.

Early Friday morning, the News published an updated story on its website, indicating that Mr. Becker was indeed the winner.