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Paper Ballot Count Resumes After Covid Forced a Pause

Wed, 11/25/2020 - 12:11

With approximately 100,000 paper ballots remaining to be counted, work came to a halt at the Suffolk County Board of Elections on Saturday after a worker tested positive for Covid-19.

The count of absentee, affidavit, and unscanned ballots began last Thursday. Newsday reported on Saturday that the part-time employee had shown symptoms of the virus before the positive test, and that the County Health Department had ordered seven other employees into quarantine.

Nick LaLota, the board of elections' Republican commissioner, told The Star on Monday that the board of elections' building in Yaphank had undergone a "deep cleaning" on Sunday and that all employees were tested for the virus on Monday. The count of absentee, affidavit, and unscanned ballots was scheduled to resume on Tuesday, he said.

The unofficial count of races including in New York's First Congressional District and the First District in the State Senate and Assembly remained unchanged since shortly after Election Day, and given the margins in favor of the unofficial victors, the results in Suffolk County are unlikely to change.

Representative Lee Zeldin led his Democratic challenger, Nancy Goroff, by a seemingly insurmountable 22.6 percent margin, winning 61.3 percent of votes already counted to her 38.7 percent. Mr. Zeldin, one of President Trump's most ardent supporters in Congress, led by more than 65,000 votes in his quest for a fourth term, with his biggest showing in more heavily populated election districts in the western part of the county.

Before absentee, affidavit, and unscanned ballots were counted, Mr. Zeldin had carried 23 of Southampton Town's 42 election districts, but only one of East Hampton's 19 districts and none of Shelter Island's four districts. Ms. Goroff has yet to concede.

In the First Senatorial District, Assemblyman Anthony Palumbo leads Laura Ahearn, 74,293 votes to 55,557 votes, or 57.2 percent to 42.8 percent, in the race to succeed Senator Kenneth P. LaValle, who is retiring. Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele leads his challenger, Heather Collins, in the First Assembly District, 28,187 votes to 24,666 votes, or 53.3 percent to 46.7 percent.

Suffolk voters supported President Trump's re-election campaign 55.5 percent to 43.2 percent, though the absentee ballot count is likely to narrow his lead over President-elect Joseph Biden. The unofficial count remains 333,617 for Mr. Trump to 259,463 for Mr. Biden. In the unofficial tally not including the absentee, affidavit, or unscanned ballots, President-elect Biden bested Mr. Trump in all 19 of East Hampton's election districts, all four on Shelter Island, and 25 of 42 in Southampton Town.

Although he had yet to concede the election that the Associated Press and major networks called for Mr. Biden on Nov. 7, Mr. Trump's administration authorized a formal transition process on Monday after Michigan certified Mr. Biden as the winner of that state's 16 electoral votes. That certification further narrowed the president's path to overturning the election.

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