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      Maffei campaign calls absentee voters

      The race for the 25th congressional district will come down to absentee ballots. Right now 684 votes separate Rep. Dan Maffei, the democratic incumbent, and Ann Marie Buerkle, the republican challenger. Buerkle is ahead.

      The Maffei campaign is doing a survey and contacting absentee voters. A spokesperson for Maffei says there have been "reports" that people who died, voted absentee.

      Elections officials in Onondaga County say they've gotten calls from voters asking about the survey.

      Absentee voter Grace Ghezzi received a call Sunday night and said she found it unusual that someone wanted to know how she voted.

      "It was strange because at the time I didn't know why they were calling and what their motive was and whether it was an absentee ballot phone call," said Ghezzi.

      It is legal to call and ask someone who they voted for, of course they don't have to answer. The Maffei campaign is stressing this is legal and says it's common when a race comes down to a handful of votes.

      The campaign released this statement,"The election law provides a process to insure the integrity of the vote that every valid vote is counted. We are availing ourselves of that process."

      The Buerkle campaign also released a statement, saying they want people to know they are not connected to this effort.

      "...It is regrettable that this action is underway prior to those absentee votes being tabulated by county election officials," the statement said "While the reasons for this effort are unclear - many agree it could be an attempt by some to identify who each person voted for in an effort to disqualify certain eligible ballots from being counted."

      Elections Commissioner Helen Kiggins Walsh says the survey is extremely unusual.

      "I'm guessing they are trying to figure out where they stand or someone's planning a challenge," Kiggins Walsh said. "That's the only two reasons I could see to contact anyone."

      B oth campaigns have access to the names of people who voted absentee. M eantime, Cayuga County will not be opening absentee ballots Tuesday as had been scheduled, as leaders wait for possible court orders in how to proceed.