LOCKPORT – Residents will not know the outcome of two close elections until late this month.
Updates to state election laws will delay the count until after Nov. 18, according to Niagara County Board of Elections commissioners.
Who will serve as Niagara's Sixth District legislator in the City of Niagara Falls, and who will occupy one of the two open Niagara Falls City Council seats, will likely be decided the week before the Thanksgiving holiday.
Commissioners Jennifer Sandonato, a Republican, and Lora Allen, a Democrat, said the longer wait is a result of a new regulations that were introduced this year and put in place during this election cycle.
In one new regulation, a deadline for residents that had moved to a different county to reregister to vote was eliminated. Registered voters can now move to another county and maintain their eligibility for the next election. To ensure individuals do not vote twice under the new system, the database procedure was adopted, Allen said.
"It’s a double check," Sandonato said.
Allen said board staff will hope to have a full count completed in by a "few days" after the Nov. 18 deadline and database verification. As of Thursday, Allen said there were 355 absentee ballots citywide to be counted. About 113 were sent from the sixth district race, she said.
Election results from Nov. 5 indicate:
• Incumbent Democratic Minority Leader Dennis Virtuoso is ahead of Republican challenger David Zajac by a 29-vote margin. Five voters "wrote in" on their ballot, entries that could potentially contain Zajac or Virtuoso's names.
• Incumbent Niagara Falls City Councilman Kenny Tompkins led the Cataract City race by a substantial margin.
Challengers Alicia Kenyon, a Democrat, and John Spanbauer, a Republican, are also separated by a 29-vote margin. Vote totals indicate Spanbauer has received 4,366 votes and Kenyon has received 4,337 votes. Board of elections indicate 42 "write in" entries were submitted on local ballots.
Total voter turnout in the county was clocked at about 32 percent, according to unofficial results from the board of elections.