By Peter J. Smith

WATERTOWN, New York ( – The absentee ballot count is winding down in the NY 23rd Congressional District and shows Conservative candidate Doug Hoffman unable to catch up with Rep. Bill Owens, his Democratic challenger in the special election, who was sworn into office after Hoffman had initially conceded the race. However, the pro-life, pro-family candidate now is alleging that ACORN and the state unions “tampered” with the election results to deliver the election to Owens, setting up the specter of a recount challenge.

The Watertown Times reports that Owens leads Hoffman by 3,105 votes and just 3,072 absentee ballots remain to be counted by county election officials throughout the district, making victory impossible for Hoffman even if he carries the remainder of the ballots.

Rumblings are coming from the Hoffman camp that election fraud and vote tampering stole the election from the Conservative, who had been the front-runner in polls before Election Day – although data from those polls released Monday could not adequately evaluate the impact of GOP candidate Dede Scozzafava's endorsement of Democrat Bill Owens on the race. 

Hoffman entered the race as a pro-life, pro-family, conservative alternative to Scozzafava, a pro-abortion GOP Assemblywoman, who embraced same-sex “marriage” and a number of economic positions that put her politically to the left of Owens. Scozzafava has strong ties to organized labor, and her support of Owens is regarded as having been pivotal to the Democrat's election in a district that has been held by Republicans since the Civil War.

“Recent developments leave me to wonder who is scheming behind closed doors, twisting arms and stealing elections from the voters of NY-23,” wrote Hoffman in a letter asking for donations to finance a looming recount.

Specifically, Hoffman targeted “ACORN and the unions” as groups that may have tampered with the election, adding that “inspectors who read numbers incorrectly when phoning in results … sounds like a tactic right from the ACORN playbook.”

Election officials had discovered in a recanvassing effort over 2,000 misreported or uncounted votes for Hoffman, which they attributed to “human error,” shrinking Democrat Bill Owens's lead over Hoffman from 5,335 votes to 3,026 votes.

Neither Hoffman nor his campaign has yet offered any specific evidence that would substantiate their claims of possible election fraud.

Both Jefferson County Republican elections commissioner Jerry O. Eaton and Oswego County Republican chairman George J. Williams told the Times that they disputed Hoffman's allegations of tampering.

“No one has touched those ballots or has access to those ballots except board of elections staff – and in a bipartisan manner,” said Eaton.

However the Gouverneur Times reports that computerized voting machines were afflicted with a virus in at least four voting districts during the special election, casting suspicion as to whether all the computer voting machines were actually in working order. The machines scan in paper ballots filled out by voters and were made by Dominion/Sequoia Voting Systems – the same company whose faulty computerized voting machines precipitated the agonizing Florida recount in the 2000 presidential election.

For decades, New York State had traditionally relied on mechanized lever-action voting booths, but a federal court order forced the state to switch to computerized machines in order to comply with the Help America Vote Act of 2002, which requires states have them at polling places in order to make voting more accessible to persons with disabilities.

The Washington Times now reports that Hoffman said on Friday that he is considering demanding a recount in light of the computer errors. A decision is expected before Monday.

If Hoffman gets his bid for a recount, then all the paper ballots will have to be recounted and tallied by hand further dragging out the final conclusion of the special election.

See previous coverage by

Hoffman “Unconcedes” Battle for NY-23: Recount Provides Hope for “Miracle” Victory 

NY 23 Conservative Hoffman Jumps to Commanding Poll Lead after Liberal GOP Drops out, Backs Democrat 

Conservative Rebellion Explodes in New York over Extreme Liberal GOP Candidate