Local winners won’t be declared until next week, but absentee ballot returns suggest GOP sweep will hold

One week after Election Day, the local state Senate and Assembly races have yet to be called and it is likely winners will not be declared until after Nov. 16.

While it has appeared since shortly after the polls closed last Tuesday that Republicans had swept the local races for State Legislature and Congress, none of the three Democratic candidates has conceded their race. Only Congressman Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) has declared victory, even as the numbers continue to suggest his fellow GOP candidates have also cruised to victory.

In his victory speech last week, Mr. Zeldin and Suffolk County Republican Committee Chairman Jesse Garcia congratulated Senate candidate Anthony Palumbo and Assembly hopeful Jodi Giglio on their apparent victories, but both have thus far stopped short of saying they won.

“I don’t know if we can call it just yet with the large number of absentees outstanding, but I feel very good about the current lead,” Mr. Palumbo said shortly after Mr. Garcia informally declared victory on his behalf at a press event outside Zeldin headquarters.

Assembly candidate Laura Jens-Smith explained that Democrats want to assure absentee ballots are counted.

“Every vote needs to be counted until it’s statistically impossible [for a trailing candidate to win],” she said, noting that she did not expect to pull out a victory at this point.

Today is the final day for the Suffolk County Board of Elections to receive ballots from most residents, though they must have been postmarked no later than Nov. 3. Military ballots can still be received as late as Monday, Nov. 16, when the absentee ballot count will begin.

While the party enrollment of absentee ballots favor Democrats, the margins from Election Day give Republicans an outsized advantage.

The local Democrat with perhaps the best shot at victory is Laura Ahearn, Mr. Palumbo’s opponent in the 1st Senate District. Election Day totals show Mr. Palumbo with a nearly 19,000 vote advantage and data released Monday shows 41,113 absentee ballots have been returned in that race. Registered Democrats account for 18,753 absentee ballots and there were 10,201 Republican and Conservative ballots returned. In order to win, Ms. Ahearn would likely need to pick up the vast majority of the remaining 12,000 votes and any others that trickle in before today’s deadline.

In the Assembly race, the path for Ms. Jens-Smith is virtually non-existent. Election Day results show Ms. Giglio with a more than 14,000 vote lead and so far just 16,412 absentee ballots have been returned. There are only about 2,000 more Democrat ballots than Republican in that race.

Likewise, Mr. Zeldin’s 65,000 vote Election Day lead appears safe. While 85,946 absentee ballots have been returned, a breakdown of party affiliations suggests challenger Nancy Goroff would need to pick up virtually all the unaffiliated votes for any shot at victory, since about 25,000 of the returned ballots were from voters affiliated with the Republican, Conservative and Independence parties, which all backed Mr. Zeldin.

In the days since the polls closed, Mr. Zeldin, who on election night called for everyone to work together regardless of political affiliation, has called into question the electoral process. On Thursday, he took to Twitter to say that ballots should “only be given to people WHO REQUEST THEM and are ELIGIBLE to cast ONE LEGAL vote” and said the Justice Department and Judicial Branch must “successfully intervene” if candidates are denied the right to witness the counting of ballots. On Friday night, he tweeted that he spoke with President Donald Trump, who he said “still has so much fight in him.” After the election had been called for president-elect Joe Biden, Mr. Zeldin tweeted that “social media companies need to lose liability protections the way they pressed their thumbs on the scale of the 2020 US Presidential election.”

Ms. Goroff has mostly remained quiet since Election Day, taking to Twitter Saturday only to say that as ballot counts continue she is “full of hope that we will come together and move forward as a country.”

She also congratulated Mr. Biden and running mate Kamala Harris on their win.