The Republican primary race for Livingston County District Attorney is at a standstill, as the primary results have both candidates, Steve Sessler and Eric Schiener, tied at 1,879 votes. Though Sessler has already solidified his place in the polls for the conservative line, the Republican nomination remains vital to Schiener’s campaign.
After the primary on Sept. 13, Sessler secured a 19-vote lead over Schiener, 1,793 to 1,773. There remained, however, over 200 absentee and affidavit ballots to be counted.
The Livingston County Board of Elections counted those votes Wednesday Sept. 19, declaring an official tie. There are, however, six absentee ballots being called into question.
“The ballots in question will be presented and overseen by a judge,” said Republican Commissioner of Livingston County Board of Elections Nancy Leven in a phone interview. “I’m not sure how it will proceed once we arrive in the courtroom. The judge will probably have a number of questions.”
New York State Supreme Court Justice John Ark will hear the case in Rochester Supreme Court on Wednesday Sept. 26, where he will rule on the validity of the six absentee ballots.
One ballot had an unknown substance stain in Schiener’s box and was then marked for Sessler. Another ballot has a timestamp of Sept. 13, the day of the election; however, absentee ballots must be marked the day before the election. Two ballots have misplaced Xs, either underneath the designated box or marked twice. The last two ballots arrived with unsealed interior envelopes.
In the event that Ark rules against counting the ballots, “The election law states that the decision to nominate a candidate would then go back to the party committee,” Leven said.
In a situation like this, one is reminded of the importance of a single vote.
“If one person went out and voted that day, one more person, they could have shaped the whole race,” said President of Geneseo College Republicans junior Isaac Baskin. “Then we’d be arguing over a recount instead of having a judge decide.”
The Livingston County Republican primary, however, saw a record turnout.
“I am proud of our campaign and am humbled by the 1,800-plus Republicans that voted for me both at the polls and by absentee ballot,” Eric Schiener said in an email. “Our campaign was for and by Livingston County Republicans stressing experience and professionalism over politics.”
Baskin also called to mind the former DA Tom Moran and his policies towards the Geneseo community.
“Being an attorney involves an ideology,” he said. “Tom Moran was hard on students and had a no-tolerance policy, especially with drinking.”
“Were hoping to see Schiener or Sessler come out and support the college community in different ways than [Moran] did,” Baskin said.
Looking forward, Schiener said he would remain steadfast in his campaign as well as party loyalty.
“I am confident that Justice Ark will rule in our favor and I will be certified as the Republican nominee,” he said. “Should the decision determine that my opponent is the victor, I have pledged to not appeal or pursue any additional legal action.”
“With only 42 days until the general election, I will not be responsible for harming the Republican Party’s chances on Nov. 6,” Schiener said.