Barnhart won't concede in sheriff's race until absentee votes are counted

CORTLAND, N.Y. – The Republican candidate for sheriff of Cortland County says he won't concede the race until all of the absentee ballots are counted.

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Herb Barnhart, the Cortland County undersheriff, received 3,625 votes, or about 45 percent of the vote, following Tuesday's election. His democratic challenger, Mark Helms, the chief of police for the village of Homer, received 3,902 votes, or about 49 percent of the vote.

Barnhart said in a message posted on his campaign page Wednesday afternoon that he will not concede the race until all of the absentee ballots are counted.

"We are proud of how we presented ourselves to the voters," Barnhart said. "Each one of us can have a clear conscience and know that we fought fairly."

Related: Helms leading tight race for Cortland County sheriff

While all election precincts have been reported, officials are still waiting to receive and count the absentee ballots that were sent to voters outside the county before the election results can be made official, according to Sue Morgan, spokesperson for the Cortland County Board of Elections.

So far, the county has received 448 of the 674 absentee ballots that were sent out, Morgan said.

Morgan says those votes won't be included in the total vote count until all of the absentee ballots are counted, which likely won't happen until Tuesday.

When asked how he felt about his chances, Helms declined to declare victory but said he was optimistic about the outcome.

"It's close enough where I guess anything can happen, but at this point it's still looking pretty positive for me," Helms said in a phone interview Wednesday. "I'm pretty hopeful."

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