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Judge throws out case

Though he died 18 days before the Manlius Village Election, a New York State Supreme Court judge ruled last week that the late Arnold Ferguson's vote still stands.

Supreme Court Justice John C. Cherundolo ruled that Ferguson's absentee ballot, one of eight, could stand because it wasn't challenged before it was counted.

"The ruling was simply that a protest had to be filed in person before the ballot was opened," said incumbent trustee and candidate Marc Baum, who filed for Judiciary Intervention over the election results. "Email and phone call did not count."

The court's ruling was based in part on a Supreme Court case from 1937, which upheld the law. Baum said had he known his presence was necessary to object a ballot; he would have been at the recount.

Ferguson was the father of Nancy Pfeiffer, another candidate who ran and won a seat on the board.

When a person dies, his or her vote automatically becomes disqualified, but in this particular case, the Onondaga County Board of Elections did not catch the error in time to remove it from the recanvass held the next morning. After learning Ferguson's ballot was in the mix, Baum, who was defeated by one vote to incumbent trustee Harold Hopkinson, sent an email to the BOE the evening of March 15, Election Day. He also made a follow-up phone call the next morning, but to no avail. Commissioner Helen Kiggins said his email was not opened and read until after the recanvass took place, which meant there was no way to know whose vote was whose.

In response to the way the results were handled, Baum asked the state supreme court to review the process.

The Associated Press picked up the story April 1 and the case has since attracted national attention on news sources like CBSNews.com, WashingtonPost.com and newsday.com.

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