After a night of delayed election reporting in Monroe County, Rep. Joseph Morelle and Democratic incumbents in several key state legislative races emerged victorious, rebuffing stiff challenges by their Republican opponents, unofficial results show. Gov. Kathy Hochul also won in Monroe County and statewide.
After the polls closed on Tuesday at 9 p.m., the Monroe County Board of Elections was slow to publish vote totals, later announcing that the results would be delayed. As of Wednesday morning, all races were updated with the unofficial result totals.
In the 25th Congressional District, unofficial results show Morelle with 53 percent of the vote versus 46 percent for Republican challenger La’Ron Singletary.
While the Associated Press, New York Times, and Morelle himself declared him the victor, Singletary, the former Rochester Police Department chief, initially called for an investigation into the election. Early Wednesday morning his campaign issued this statement:
“Congressional Candidate La’Ron Singletary, tonight has called for an investigation into unprecedented irregularities in our election process. Throughout the evening, several issues came into question regarding the validity of ballots and how they were accounted for and recorded. Until every ballot is accounted for and recorded appropriately, this congressional race is far from over. Every vote should be counted and every voice should be heard.”
At a press conference held later in the day by the Monroe County Board of Elections, officials explained that, as part of a new state law, both early voting and absentee ballots were counted at the same time as Election Day votes. This caused an overload of the system’s bandwidth, and that the delay had no effect on the accuracy of the results.
“You can’t shoot the messengers,” said Monroe County Republican Election Commissioner Lisa Nicolay, who added she personally voted for Singletary. “Unfortunately, Mr. Singletary is not winning right now.”
Following that explanation, Singletary conceded the race and extended “a sincere and heart-felt congratulations” to Morelle.
Currently, the state Board of Elections shows Singletary with 128,502 votes, compared with 148,681 for Morelle. If those results are confirmed, it will be the slimmest margin of victory for Morelle in his three congressional races. In 2020 and 2018, Morelle defeated challengers George Mitris and Robert Maxwell, respectively, with 59 percent of the vote.
Unofficial state Senate results show 55th District incumbent Democrat Samra Brouk defeated her Republican challenger, Len Morrell, with 58 percent of the vote, versus 42 percent for Morrell. NBCNews10 called the contest in her favor. In the 56th District, incumbent Democrat Jeremy Cooney has a 54-46 percent edge over former Gates Police Chief Jim Vanbrederode. While Cooney declared victory, his Republican challenger had not conceded as of Wednesday morning.
This was the first state Senate election under new redistricted boundaries, with Cooney’s district swapping western towns like Hilton and Brockport for Henrietta and Brouk’s district now including the town of Webster and the southeast portion of the city of Rochester.
In the state Assembly races across the county, Democratic candidates appear to have won four of seven contested elections. In the 134th District, Republican Josh Jensen ran unopposed. In the closest contest, Democratic incumbent Jen Lunsford led Republican challenger Joseph Chenelly by a margin of 55 percent to 45 percent.
In other races across Monroe County, Republican incumbent Mark Johns won the county legislator seat in Webster with 7,100 votes, or 56 percent, as an unofficial result. Johns is a retired county Department of Health worker who was appointed earlier this year following the resignation of then legislator Matthew Terp. He supports shrinking the size of the county Legislature, which is currently conflicted over redistricting efforts, and making it more active in setting agenda.
Hochul, New York’s first female governor, held off a strong challenge from Republican Lee Zeldin, unofficial results show. As of Wednesday morning, she had 53 percent of the vote in Monroe County, slightly more than the 52 percent she garnered statewide. Zeldin did not concede Tuesday night.
As of Wednesday morning, the unofficial countywide results indicated another turnout decline among registered voters, although early voting was strong.
In Monroe County, midterm election participation has declined in past cycles, bottoming out under 50 percent turnout in 2014. The 2018 midterms rebounded with 280,000 votes or 62 percent participation in the gubernatorial election. This year, the unofficial results indicate there were some 271,000 votes cast in the gubernatorial race or 56 percent participation.
Early voting turnout was relatively strong, however, with 55,000 votes cast, doubling the number recorded to last year. The 2020 presidential election had over 105,000 early votes cast.
While registered voter numbers continue to rise, turnout has not seen similar growth. The 2020 presidential election set a record high with over 380,000 people voting in Monroe County. However, the election turnout that year was 78 percent, which is below the 84 percent average turnout for presidential elections.
Story updated 3:15 p.m., 11/9/22