No. 1 Story of the Year: Election Day turns into an election month

ROBERT O'ROURK FILE PHOTO | Two of three local races took weeks to decide in this year's elections.

Typically, an election night is over sometime around midnight.

All the votes are counted, a winner is declared and everyone can relax and have a couple drinks.

This was not your typical election year. Not by a long shot.

In fact, the public had to wait a month to learn Tim Bishop would be the first congressman since Otis Pike in 1976 to be elected to represent the 1st District for more than four terms. He won by just 592 votes or .3 percent of the vote.

“It was the kind of race we had anticipated, to be honest,” Mr. Bishop (D-Southampton) said recently of his battle with Republican Randy Altschuler, which continued some five weeks after Election Day because the vote was so close. “I thought whoever won it would win with about 51 percent.”

The Bishop-Altschuler race wasn’t the only one to drag out locally. Dan Losquadro had to wait until the day before Thanksgiving before incumbent Marc Alessi conceded their race for Assembly. And it’s hard to blame Mr. Alessi for holding out hope after the two were separated by only 40 votes on Election Day. Mr. Losquadro ended up winning by about 900 votes.

Needless to say, it was a wild November for local Democrats and Republicans as they slugged it out in court to make sure the real winner came out on top in each race.

New York’s prolonged 1st District dogfight was the last congressional race in the country to be decided.

Preliminary election night tallies had Mr. Bishop leading by about 3,500 votes. But soon, a re-canvassing of the optical voting machines put him behind by 383 votes.

Mr. Bishop and his campaign called for a hand recount after the swing the weekend after the election.

But Mr. Altschuler watched his lead vanish once the process of counting the absentee and military ballots ended in late November, leaving Mr. Bishop ahead by 235. The congressman’s lead only grew after that.

Unfortunately for local politicians, the holiday break will be short-lived. Once the new year hits, a special election will be set for Mr. Losquadro’s vacant seat in the County Legislature.

In a few weeks, it all starts again.

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