Tonawanda News

The City

November 16, 2013

Smilinich/Juliano absentee vote count Tuesday

Tonawanda News — Absentee ballots cast in the City of Tonawanda’s Second Ward race between Republican Jon Juliano and Democrat Jackie Smilinich will be opened and counted Tuesday at the Erie County Board of Elections.

The 34 absentees will be counted at 1 p.m. at the office, 134 W. Eagle St.

Smilinich is currently ahead of Juliano by just one vote, by a count of 415-414.

Although the absentees could decide the race once and for all, the chance remains that the battle between the two candidates will continue in court. In the 2011 election, Third Ward candidate Augustine Beyer was ahead of Councilman Richard Slisz by just one vote until Slisz challenged the count.

After a prolonged court battle that made it the last election in the entire state to be decided, both sides agreed to sit down and hand count the 870 votes. The inspection revealed that one vote for Slisz had somehow gone completely uncounted, while another voter incorrectly circled Slisz’s bubble instead of filling it in. With two more votes to his name, Slisz won the seat in February.

Local Democratic party chair Gayle Syposs said Smilinich hasn’t filed a lawsuit, as it’s not appropriate to do so until after the absentees are counted.

“I’m hoping there is a wide enough margin where we don’t have to go through that all again,” she said. “We are optimistic.”

Contact reporter Jessica Bagley at 693-1000, ext. 4150, or follow her on Twitter @JessicaLBagley.

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