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Bishop Holds Lead After Absentee/Affidavit Count; Challenged Votes Remain

Both parties due in court next Tuesday to determine validity of challenged ballots.

According to representatives from both sides, Rep. Tim Bishop, D - Southampton, completed the absentee and affidavit ballot count with a lead of over 230 votes over Randy Altschuler, the Republican challenger from St. James. Bishop Spokesman Jon Schneider made the announcement this afternoon, and a source with the Altschuler camp who prefers to remain anonymous until a decision is made verified the count.

"We are very confident that Tim Bishop has won this election," Schneider said.  "We are very pleased with this margin and we expect it will increase once a judge rules on challenges."

Both parties are due in court next Tuesday to determine the validity of over 2,000 challenged ballots. According to Schneider, Altschuler has challenged 1,261 votes while Bishop has challenged 790, a difference of 471.

At the end of counting, Schneider reported that Bishop has a lead of 97,050 to 96,815.  

Since Election Day, three weeks ago, the First Congressional District race has been a roller coaster. After election night, Bishop unofficially held a lead of 3,461 votes. After a recanvass of electronic voting machines, Bishop's lead evaporated to a 383-vote deficit, as close to 40 percent of election districts reported errors in transferring numbers on election night. Since absentee ballot counting began, Bishop has gained votes every day.

Prior to absentee counting, Bishop stated he was going to demand a hand recount of every vote cast. Rob Ryan, Altschuler's spokesman, said he "would not deal with hypotheticals," preferring to wait until the absentee count is complete to comment on a full recount.

Ryan was unavailable for comment on Tuesday.

Schneider said, "to my knowledge, there was not anything in the audit that would suggest that the count was wrong, so I don't know at this point what legal basis there would be to go for a hand count."

Board of Election official Ivan Young said Monday evening that an audit of three percent of the electronic voting machines - 47 in total - showed no errors.

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