Dang it. After hearing about the voting machine glitches on election day, I remember thinking that Hoffman had conceded too early, but I didn’t want to say anything at the time…
Now, it turns out that Owens’ lead was not as great as was thought due to those glitches, and Hoffman campaign officials are saying that with more military and absentee votes to be counted, they may have conceded too early.
Syracuse Post-Standard reports:
Conservative Doug Hoffman conceded the race in the 23rd Congressional District last week after receiving two pieces of grim news for his campaign: He was down 5,335 votes with 93 percent of the vote counted on election night, and he had barely won his stronghold in Oswego County.
As it turns out, neither was true.
But Hoffman’s concession — based on snafus in Oswego County and elsewhere that left his vote undercounted — set off a chain of events that echoed all the way to Washington, D.C., and helped secure passage of a historic health care reform bill.
Democratic Rep. Bill Owens was quickly sworn into office on Friday, a day before the rare weekend vote in the House of Representatives. His support sealed his party’s narrow victory on the health care legislation.
Now a recanvassing in the 11-county district shows that Owens’ lead has narrowed to 3,026 votes over Hoffman, 66,698 to 63,672, according to the latest unofficial results from the state Board of Elections.
“I don’t know if we would have conceded on election night,” Rob Ryan, Hoffman’s campaign spokesman, said Wednesday while discussing the latest results of the recanvassing. “I’m someone who doesn’t like to look back. But would we have taken longer to make a decision on election night? Probably, if we knew it was only 3,000 votes making the difference.”
Ryan, while acknowledging that Hoffman’s chances of pulling off a come-from-behind victory are still remote, said the campaign is looking at its legal options.
“We’re basically watching and waiting,” Ryan said. “We’ve been looking very closely at the recanvass. We’re going to see how this week shapes up, and then we’re going to determine what to do.”
Ryan said an important factor in the decision to concede was the unexpected — and erroneous — close vote in Oswego County, where polls had Hoffman with a double digit percentage point lead heading into Election Day.
“That’s the thing that threw us off,” Ryan said.
The race will be decided by the 10,200 absentee ballots that were distributed, including thousands of military and overseas ballots.
As Jim Geraghty has noted, “it would be really tough to make up a 3,000-vote margin in a three-way race among 10,000 absentee ballots”.
But not impossible. Stay tuned.
Ed Morrisey throws cold water on the whole thing:
Now that Owens has taken the oath of office, the count of absentee ballots is technically moot. The House would have to reject Owens in a floor challenge in order to seat Hoffman instead. That’s even less likely than Hoffman winning the election with a 3026-vote gap prior to the absentee ballot count.
Sooo…pretty close to impossible.
Hat tip: Michelle Malkin