WEST ONEONTA -- There could be as many as 142 absentee ballots at play in the undecided second seat on the Oneonta Town Board.
Democrat David Jones appears to have locked in the first seat on the board with 754 votes at the polls Tuesday, according to preliminary results.
But incumbent board member Janet Hurley-Quackenbush, with 678 votes, has a 22-vote lead over the total number of write-in votes, according to those results.
"I am cautiously optimistic. It's too close to tell yet. We'll have to wait and see," Hurley-Quackenbush, a Republican, said Wednesday.
Voters could vote for two candidates for town council -- one for each open seat -- and the top two vote-getters will get elected.
Timothy Nobiling, a teacher at Greater Plains Elementary School, had an aggressive write-in campaign when fellow Democrat David Ranieri dropped out of the race, but could not get his name off the ballot in time. It is impossible to tell at this stage how many of those write-in votes are for Nobiling, but the margin of absentee ballots suggests the second seat may be within his reach.
"At this point, I'm certainly not going to concede anything," Nobiling said Wednesday.
In each of the other town races Tuesday, where there were no write-in campaigns, there were fewer than 10 write-in votes.
The Otsego County Board of Elections reported Tuesday that 99 absentee ballots out of 142 distributed had been returned.
The deadline for the remainder is Tuesday, and more ballots could be in the mail, Deputy Democratic Elections Commissioner Elizabeth A. Cunero said.
"I think it's enough votes that it could swing the other way," Nobiling said.
Re-canvassing will begin Thursday and could take several days.
Voter turnout Tuesday was slightly higher than four years ago when a wide-open supervisor's race first put Wood into office.
That race, which also featured then-board member Marie Lusins-McLachlan, had 1,335 ballots cast at the polls for those two candidates.
Tuesday's contest had 1,395 votes cast for Wood or his challenger, board member Carleton Delameter, and one write-in vote.
But more votes were cast in the town board race this year than four years ago.
That year, when there were four candidates vying for two seats, there were 2,544 votes cast at the polls.
This year, including write-ins, there were 2,716 votes cast in the council race.
The board seats held by Republicans Scott Gravelin and Bill Mirabito were not up for election this year.