Judge rules original outcome stands in Oneida County Legislator race

By Joleen Ferris

(WKTV) - Four weeks after election day, Oneida County election commissioners were finally able to certify the Oneida County Legislators Race in the first district, which includes Turning Stone Resort and Casino.  But not before some legal wrangling.

The close race, in which more than 1,900 people voted, had Democrat Ken Fort ahead of Republican Howard Regner by only three votes.  Regner and his attorney petitioned the State Supreme Court in Utica for a recount.  Judge David Murad instead afforded both sides the opportunity to review seven emergency ballots in the race.

"They were found after the fact in an envelope inside the bag, and they didn't make it out of the bag at the time that the votes were counted," said Fort's attorney, Gus DeTraglia.

Both sides reviewed the ballots with similar objections that would have cancelled each other out.  The judge ruled that, essentially, the original outcome stands.

"What the judge did is, he dismissed our petition for lack of subject matter jurisdiction," said Regner's attorney Jason Flemma. "He felt that he didn't have the authority to do what we were asking to do, because he said the ballots were not objected to or the process was not objected to in the first instance when they were counted."

Both sides agree on one thing: This close race drives home the point that every vote really does count.

"It absoutely does, this certainly does. I mean you're talking about a three-vote difference," said DeTraglia.

"It was three votes and voter turnout is historically low, and it really does show if people got out to vote, to have their voice heard, it really really does matter," says Flemma.

Four weeks after election day, Oneida County's election commissioners finally expected to certify the race today. The final tally:  Ken Fort, 948;  Howard Regner, 945. Total voters: 1,951, with 58 blanks.

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