Wonkette and The Hill are reporting he’ll “unconcede” — as he promised Glenn Beck — but apparently a promise to Glenn Beck means about as much as an election-night concession. Local sources, closer to the story and the players, report that Hoffman is not contesting the count of absentee ballots, meaning he’s also likely not deploying observers to watch the canvass returns, a right that candidates enjoy (and uniformly exercise) pursuant to New York election law.
As a reminder, the Palladium Times, the only newspaper that’s managed to get the story right, explained that phone problems delayed returns in Oswego County, causing nine election districts (out of 125) to fail to report until the next day, by which time Hoffman had already conceded. Similarly, human error caused Hoffman to under-perform in Jefferson County by about 1,000 votes. The error wasn’t discovered until the next day.
Critically, at least in Oswego County, what’s become the epicenter of the controversy, at all times after 10:30 PM on election night, 1.5 hours after close of polls, all public data on the returns were accurate: had Hoffman called the Oswego Board of Elections, he would’ve been informed of the exact state of the count, that nine election districts weren’t yet in, and that the vote totals would rise by 2,000+ votes once they were. The notion that outside forces somehow conspired to trick Hoffman into conceding has no basis in the facts. He simply wasn’t a responsible candidate.
The Hill gets one thing right, though — Hoffman would have to win 65-70% of the absentee ballots to carry the election and displace Owens. Since the race was a three-way contest until three days before the election, and Hoffman’s surge didn’t happen until four days before, it’s highly unlikely that he’ll win anything close to that.
UDPATE: by the way, for those curious, a “concession” has no legal effect in New York, nor does a “suspension of one’s campaign” (what Assemblywoman Scozzafava did). The only authorities on who “won” a race are the County Board(s) of Elections responsible for the race, working in conjunction with the N.Y. State Board of Elections. A despondent, “resigned” candidate can still be dragged kicking and screaming into office if they won the vote.
Critically, no election results have been certified, nor has any New York authority represented its results as certified. The State Board delivered an unofficial certification to the Clerk of the House in advance of Owen’s swearing in, carefully noting the result was not yet official. The Gouverneur Times gets that right, but dishonestly suggests Owens is occupying his office illegally. He’s not. At the time of his swearing-in, the race was uncontested: an impound order on voting machines is NOT an official, Article 16 challenge to election results. I haven’t been able to get a copy of the complaint ordering the impound of voting machines, but the judge’s order to that effect does not style itself as an Article 16 order. Cf. N.Y. Elec. Law, § 16-112 (McKinney 2008).
Two weeks out, official certification is still pending. Because New York is testing out new voting machines for the first time this year, the official canvass has just begun, following a thorough audit of the new machines that lasted until, likely, today. We’ll be keeping our eyes on the situation, but only to dispel rumors about the way the law works up here. There’s literally a 0% chance Hoffman will win this thing.