BY ROSE WELDON AND ROBERT PELAEZ
After over one million Long Islanders went to the polls on Election Day, waited in line for early voting or sent off their absentee ballots, candidates in most major local races held back on declaring victory or conceding until vote counts can be finalized.
According to early election figures, 1.4 million Long Islanders made their voices heard this election season, surpassing the 1.33 million who cast ballots in 2016. Around 715,000 Nassau County residents voted, beating the previous record of 653,676 in the 2016 election, according to Nassau Democratic Elections Commissioner James Scheuerman.
More than 350,000 Nassau residents cast their ballots on Election Day Tuesday, with others taking advantage of the county’s second year of early voting and use of absentee ballots due to the coronavirus pandemic. Scheuerman said 142,962 absentee ballots were cast in Nassau County this year, a figure that shatters the previous record of 48,000 in 2016.
Counting of absentee ballots in Nassau had not begun as of Wednesday, and the totals reported were based on ballots cast in person with all precincts reporting, according to the New York State Board of Elections.
In a year that included Republican House victories in Suffolk County, with Assemblyman Andrew Garbarino (R-Seaford) heavily leading the race to succeed U.S. Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) and U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) projected to win a fifth term, candidates on the North Shore were awaiting the results of absentee ballots.
In New York’s 3rd Congressional District, financial professional and Republican candidate George Santos of Queens led incumbent U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove). Initial vote tallies gave Santos 137,864 votes, or 47 percent, while Suozzi had 133,634, or 46 percent.
With a margin of a little over 4,200 votes between them, neither candidate declared victory as of Wednesday morning, but Suozzi campaign senior adviser Kim Devlin said in a statement that the campaign was confident that the congressman would be declared the winner once absentee votes were counted.
“As we await the final tally of all votes, we are confident of Congressman Tom Suozzi’s victory,” Devlin said. “It is clear that Tom will win re-election by a substantial margin. Democrats hold a 3-1 advantage in the nearly 90,000 absentee votes yet to be counted and we expect Tom’s margin of victory to be over 20,000 votes.”
The Santos campaign said in a statement that the Republican was confident of his chances.
“George Santos is so thankful for the wonderful support he’s received from those in his district,” the campaign said. “George is confident that after every valid vote is counted, he will prevail in this race.”
The district includes Manhasset, Roslyn, Port Washington, Great Neck and Floral Park, among other areas, and stretches from Whitestone, Queens, to Kings Park in Suffolk County. If declared the winner, Suozzi will serve a third two-year term. Should Santos prevail, he will be the first gay man to represent the district.
In the 4th Congressional District, U.S. Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-Garden City) declared victory over Town of Hempstead Engineering Commissioner and Republican Douglas Tuman of West Hempstead, with 48 percent of the vote to Tuman’s 44 percent. She received 147,580 votes to Tuman’s 134,243 so far.
Rice thanked voters in a statement and said that she was awaiting final vote tallies.
“Serving the people of New York’s Fourth Congressional District is the greatest privilege of my life, and I am eager to continue fighting for Long Island in Congress,” Rice said. “We are still awaiting the final vote tally, and every absentee ballot must be counted, but the result of the election is clear. I want to congratulate my opponents for running a hard race. I commend anyone who is willing to put themselves out there to serve their community. As we await the final results from across the country, I am hopeful that this will be a good night for our nation. I believe we can move forward from this election stronger and more unified.”
The Tuman campaign did not respond to a request for comment.
The 4th Congressional District is situated in central and southern Nassau County, and includes Floral Park, Mineola, Garden City, New Hyde Park, Hempstead, Carle Place and Westbury. If declared the winner, Rice will serve a fourth two-year term.
STATE LEGISLATURE RACES
In the 7th State Senate District, state Sen. Anna Kaplan (D-Great Neck) declared victory over former Police Commissioner and Republican candidate Dave Franklin of Port Washington, with 58,010 votes, or 48 percent, to Franklin’s 52,453, or 44 percent.
“As a former political refugee, being elected to represent my neighbors in the New York State Senate has been the honor of a lifetime, and I’m extremely humbled that the people of Nassau County have placed their trust in me to be their Senator for two more years,” Kaplan said in a statement. “As we move forward, it’s more important than ever that our community comes together so that we can address the challenges we face due to the coronavirus pandemic, and I look forward to continuing that work on behalf of Long Island families and small businesses across New York State.”
Franklin said in a post on his Facebook page that he had not yet conceded due to the absentee votes that hadn’t been counted and implored supporters to “stay tuned.”
“While my opponent has chosen to declare victory, I will remind her that there are still 30,000+ absentee and write-in votes to be counted,” Franklin said. “This is not sour grapes, this is the process. We owe it to our voters to complete the process, and I’m guessing that if the situation was reversed my opponent would do the same thing.”
The district includes Floral Park, New Hyde Park, Williston Park, Mineola, Garden City Park, North Hills, Albertson, Old Westbury, East Hills, Roslyn, Roslyn Harbor, Roslyn Estates, Albertson, Searingtown, Lake Success, Manhasset, Munsey Park, Plandome, Plandome Heights, Plandome Manor, and the entireties of the Great Neck and Port Washington peninsulas.
If declared the winner, Kaplan, who won her first term in 2018 after besting former Flower Hill Mayor and Republican State Sen. Elaine Phillips, will serve a second two-year term.
In the 13th State Assembly District, Assemblyman Charles Lavine (D-Glen Cove) led attorney and Republican candidate Andrew Monteleone of Syosset by 52 percent of the vote to 39 percent. Lavine received 26,065 votes to his opponent’s 19,419.
Lavine thanked Monteleone in a statement.
“Yesterday’s historic election was unique in that it included voting by mail, in-person early voting, and voting on Election Day,” Lavine said. “We must and we will remain patient as all the votes are counted.”
Neither candidate declared victory or conceded as of Wednesday morning. The district includes Roslyn, Greenvale, Sea Cliff, Glen Cove and parts of East Hills and Westbury, and if declared the winner Lavine will serve an eighth term.
In the 16th Assembly District, Republican candidate and small business owner Ragini Srivastava of Manhasset Hills led 20-year government employee and Democratic nominee Gina Sillitti of Manorhaven, with 24,831 votes, or 49 percent, to Sillitti’s 21,343 votes, or 42 percent.
Sillitti, who currently serves as director of human resources in Nassau County’s Board of Elections, said in a statement to Blank Slate Media that she was confident that she would be named the winner following the counting of absentee votes.
“While I’m down on yesterday’s machine count, thousands more Democrats voted by absentee in advance,” Sillitti said. “I am confident that once all the votes are counted, I will be the next Assemblywoman for the 16th District. I trust the process completely and look forward to celebrating in a few weeks.”
A request for comment from the Srivastava campaign was not immediately returned.
The district includes Great Neck, Port Washington, Manhasset, Roslyn Heights, North Hills, Flower Hill, Lake Success, Baxter Estates, Manorhaven and Sands Point. The winner will succeed two-term Assemblyman Anthony D’Urso (D-New Hyde Park), who announced in January that he would not seek re-election.
In the 19th Assembly District, Assemblyman Edward Ra (R-Garden City) led attorney and retired Army Lt. Col. Gary Port of West Hempstead. Ra received 33,177 votes, or 58 percent, and Port received 18,810, or 33 percent.
Neither candidate declared victory or conceded as of Wednesday morning. The district includes Glen Head, Old Brookville, Old Westbury, New Hyde Park, Williston Park, Garden City Park, Garden City South, Garden City and Mineola, and if decided in Ra’s favor will mean a sixth two-year term in the Assembly.