The Dutchess County Board of Elections opened 1,853 absentee ballots yesterday on the first day of counting and votes broke decisively toward Democratic Party candidates.

Nationwide, mail-in ballots have leaned decisively left as more Democrats voted by mail while Republicans preferred to vote in-person during the COVID-19 pandemic. In Dutchess County, Democrats outnumber Republicans two-to-one among the more than 30,000 absentee ballots returned.

Local parties have their eye on one race whose outcome remains in question: the race for Dutchess County Court Judge between Democrat Jessica Segal and incumbent Republican Peter Forman.

After in-person voting, Segal found herself 7,385 votes behind, needing to win just over 62% of the absentee ballots to win.

On Wednesday, Segal received 1,158 votes to Forman’s 550 – 67.8% of the votes counted – reducing the Republican’s unofficial lead from 7,385 votes to 6,777 votes.

Even better news for the Segal campaign is that the districts opened yesterday are more Republican than the county as a whole. Votes were opened from all of Amenia and Clinton and parts of Dover, East Fishkill and LaGrange.

Based on a Hudson Valley Observer analysis of the ballot data, Segal will now need to win about 62% of the remaining mail-in ballots in her race.

Other Democrats also gained including President-elect Joe Biden, who trailed in Dutchess after in-person voting by 1,941 votes but gained 846 votes and is projected to win Dutchess County by a significant margin after all the votes are counted. Congressman Antonio Delgado extended his lead over his challenger by 646 votes and Assembly member Didi Barrett added 397 votes to her lead.

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