A friend sent me a link to a dot gov site that proved me wrong about absentee ballots not being counted unless they would affect the outcome
"What are absentee ballots? Do they only count in close elections?
Many absentee ballots are cast by voters who are unable to vote at their physical polling place due to being an active duty military member, a family member of someone on active duty or a U.S. citizen residing overseas. All ballots submitted according to State laws are counted in every election.
The media often will report the projected outcome of the election before all of the ballots are counted. In a close election, the media may report that the outcome cannot be announced until after the absentee ballots are counted. However, all ballots, including absentee ballots, are counted in the final totals for every election - and every vote (absentee or in-person) counts the same."
Dan Emplit WBFD
USN 1986 - 1992