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N.Y. congressional race not yet certified

New York Democratic candidate Bill Owens, left, delivers a victory speech. The Conservative Party's Doug Hoffman, right, conceded.
New York Democratic candidate Bill Owens, left, delivers a victory speech. The Conservative Party's Doug Hoffman, right, conceded. (Mike Groll/associated Press)
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Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, November 13, 2009

Officials in New York have not yet certified Bill Owens (D) the winner of the Nov. 3 special congressional election, saying Thursday that a recounting of the vote shows him with a smaller lead than first reported.

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The New York Board of Elections plans to count more than 10,000 absentee ballots before certifying a winner. Owens's lead over Conservative Party nominee Doug Hoffman has tightened from about 5,300 votes on election night to about 3,000, but officials in both parties said Thursday that the Democrat is almost certain to remain the winner in the race.

Owens was sworn into office last Friday and, a day later, cast a critical vote that helped the health-care bill pass the House.

In seating Hoffman, congressional Democrats noted that, while no official certificate of election had been sent by New York officials, the race had not been contested. Republicans did not object then and have not since.

"Doug Hoffman conceded, knowing that there was no way he could take the lead in the final tally, and that's exactly why the election results were not contested," said Jennifer Crider, a spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

An official for the Hoffman campaign would not publicly comment Thursday on whether the candidate would now contest the election result.

Officials in New York cited tabulation errors for the inaccurate initial margin. A routine vote recanvass showed more votes for Hoffman among the more than 136,000 that were cast.

A spokesman for the New York Board of Elections said certification of the election probably will not occur until next month.

The race drew national attention as major GOP figures, most notably former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, shunned the Republican candidate, Dede Scozzafava, and endorsed Hoffman. Scozzafava quit the race days before the election and endorsed Owens.

Owens replaced Rep. John M. McHugh (R), who became secretary of the Army in the Obama administration.

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