Tags Posts tagged with "2020 Elections"

2020 Elections

by -
0 115
William Sussman attends pre-election training at the Suffolk County Board of Elections. Photo by Sussman

When one conjures the image of the average poll worker, it’s probably not the picture of Will Sussman.

Sussman, 21, an electrical engineering and computer science student at Yale University, stood shoulder to shoulder (so to speak, considering the pandemic) with people twice or three times his age at the Miller Place High School Nov. 3. Being at the forefront of the democratic process is a unique first-time experience for any young person, but in the age of COVID-19, it was also a way of protecting many of the usual workers who are particularly susceptible to the virus.

Will Sussman takes a selfie as he helps work the polls at the Miller Place High School Nov. 3. Photo by Sussman

On average, poll workers are more likely to be older and retired, according to an April report from the Pew Research Center. According to a study of the 2018 midterms, most poll workers were aged 61 to 70. Just 4% of that study were people aged 18 to 25. Data is the same for presidential election years as well as midterms. According to an Election Administration and Voting Survey from 2016, 24% of poll workers are aged 71 and older, while another 32% are 61 to 70. EAVS surveys also show a majority of board of elections have a difficult time finding volunteers to man polling locations. 

Sussman was one of a handful of young people who decided to volunteer at a Suffolk polling place this election. Knowing just how dangerous the virus was to older people, and being home from college earlier this year because of the pandemic, he said it became apparent there was need for volunteers, especially considering he and his immediate family had tested positive for the virus earlier this year, and after he and his folks recovered, he tested positive for COVID antibodies.

His decision was an important one considering issues election officials faced earlier this year in the primaries. Officials from the Suffolk County Board of Elections told the county Legislature’s Ways & Means Committee meeting in September that 25% of poll workers did not show up for the June primary. When college started up again in the fall, and as Yale was inviting students back, Sussman had to get special permission from his college to return for the day specifically to work the polls.

“I was in the best position to relieve people who are at greater risk for COVID,” Sussman said. “I read a lot about national and international affairs, and I was sort of more aware than the average person that poll workers would be needed.”

Sussman took mandatory poll worker training during the summer, and though he said where he would end up wasn’t determined by where one lives, he still ended up working at the same place he had graduated from only three years earlier.

“It was sort of poetic in a sense,” he said. “The last time I was in that room, the last time I was there I told my graduating class to exercise the right to vote.”

The polling place was busy most of the entire day, having received around 3,500 people coming to vote. There were quieter moments, but the young man said he had a little bit of an easier time handling the new tablets that workers were using to check in voters.

Two other young Miller Place High School students also became involved in helping the public vote. This is despite both being too young to cast ballots themselves.

Miller Place seniors Zoe Bussewitz and Meghan Luby also worked the polls Nov. 3. Bussewitz said they had been participating in a charity run by college students when she learned about students in another state being allowed to volunteer despite not being old enough to vote. Contacting the Suffolk BOE, the pair learned they could do the same.

What followed was a lot of “on the job” training, working 17 hours total, a blur of excitement of explaining how to fill out ballots, collecting signatures and sanitizing polling booths.

“It was really good to get involved,” Bussewitz said. “It was like I was doing my part.”

Though the Miller Place senior doesn’t know if she will have time to volunteer again in two years time, as she’ll likely be in college, she said it will inform her about voting in the many elections still to come. 

With the sense of unease nationally surrounding the election, being with so many volunteers, many of whom with different political backgrounds, Bussewitz said it was something that showed how people can come together for the sake of democracy.

“Right now there’s a lot of division, but everybody there were very kind and open minded,” she said. “It was great to see that break from division and really have just a day to do your civic duty.”

Though even with the number of people they had there, Sussman said the place still felt slightly understaffed. Though while they didn’t have any real problems with most voters, there was one instance of a voter who refused to wear a mask inside the polling place. The policy was there could be no restrictions on anybody who was legally allowed to cast a ballot, but in order to protect people’s health, they had to wait for all current voters to leave the polling place, then after the person cast their vote everything needed to be sanitized.

With all the national attention being paid to the legitimacy of this year’s election, the young man said seeing the process firsthand just exemplified how wrong all the claims of voter fraud were. 

“Everything is packed and labeled, and it would take a lot of effort to mess with these ballots,” he said.

Stock photo

Despite Election Day being Nov. 3, local races have a week or more to settle on the final count.

Suffolk County Republican Board of Elections commissioner, Nick LaLota, said via email they hope counting will be finished before Thanksgiving, Nov. 26, though there is no way to know when everything will be finalized.

Republican candidates took leads in every local state and congressional race based on in-person ballots as the BOE started its absentee ballot count Nov. 16. Election experts have repeatedly said on average more Democrats used absentee ballots than Republicans did, though races will largely depend on unaffiliated voters. 

With that said, it will still be hard going for many Democrats in a few of the most hotly contested races. The U.S. Congressional District 1 race between U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY1) and his Democratic opponent Nancy Goroff still remains out, though Zeldin currently holds a 65,120-vote lead. There are still over 89,000 absentee ballots left in that race, but Goroff would need to reportedly take all non-GOP registered votes in order to gain the upper hand.

A similar challenge is there in the New York State Senate District 1 race for Democrat Laura Ahearn, who has a steep uphill climb against her challenger, current Assemblyman Anthony Palumbo (R-New Suffolk). Ahearn is down by 18,736 from in-person polling, and there are over 42,000 absentee ballots left to count, and she will need many votes outside the two main parties to gain the seat.

The race for State Senate District 2 between Republican Mario Mattera and Democrat Mike Siderakis is heavily favoring red, as there is a 35,109 difference in votes favoring Mattera with less than 43,000 votes to count. 

The State Assembly District 2 race between Democrat Laura Jens-Smith and Republican Jodi Giglio is likely to go in favor of the GOP. With a 14,355 difference and just under 17,000 absentee ballots to count, Giglio has all but cinched her new position. Jens-Smith has previously told TBR News Media she knows she has very little chance of victory.

Some elections are closer than others, such as State Assembly District 4. Many residents reported surprise in messages to TBR News Media at longtime Assemblyman Steve Englebright’s (D-Setauket) deficit of votes compared to his Republican opponent Michael Ross of 1,966. That race currently has 17,909 absentee ballots left to count.

However, there are a few confirmed elections. State Assemblyman Mike Fitzpatrick (R-St. James), with his lead of 23,419 with in-person ballots, is so far ahead of his young Democratic opponent Dylan Rice even the over-17,000 absentee ballots could not make a dent in the District 8 race.

On Nov, 17, U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-NY3) said his opponent George Santos called him to concede. In a statement, Santos credited grassroots supporters and donors for the close race.

“I am proud that we gained the support of every PBA and first responder organization that endorsed this cycle,” Santos said.

Santos said there may be more announcements in the near future regarding his next steps.

“I would like to congratulate Congressman Tom Suozzi,” Santos said. “We wish him well going forward for the benefit of our district and constituents.”

State Sen. Jim Gaughran (D-Northport) declared victory Nov. 18 against his Republican opponent Ed Smyth. This came after votes absentee votes already counted in both Nassau and Suffolk put him over the edge.

“I am humbled to be reelected by the residents of the 5th Senate District and I thank them for their support,” Gaughran said in a statement. “During my first term in office, I worked tirelessly on behalf of Long Islanders and I am proud to have delivered real results — from a permanent property tax cap to support for small businesses navigating the COVID-19 pandemic. I will keep fighting for my constituents, for Long Island, and for all of New York State and I thank the voters for giving me the opportunity to continue to serve them.”

Above, is a breakdown of where each race stands with in-person votes as at Nov. 18 plus the number of absentee ballots left as last reported on Nov. 16 (from the Suffolk County Board of Elections).

Current vote totals are as of the morning of Nov. 18

Congress

NY1

Lee Zeldin (R): 176,323 Votes – 61.31%

Nancy Goroff (D): 111,203 Votes – 38.67%

Absentee Ballots: 89,401

NY3

Tom Suozzi (D): 46,112 Votes – 46.65%

George Santos (R): 52,117 Votes – 52.72%

Absentee Ballots: 34,902

New York State Senate

SD1

Laura Ahearn (D): 55,557 Votes – 42.78%

Anthony Palumbo (R): 74,293 Votes – 57.20%

Absentee Ballots: 42,550

SD2

Mario Mattera (R): 79,762 Votes – 64.10%

Mike Siderakis (D): 44,653 Votes – 35.88%

Absentee Ballots: 42,781

SD5

Jim Gaughran (D): 27,132 Votes – 43.51%

Ed Smyth (R): 34,575 Votes – 55.44%

Absentee Ballots: 21,276

New York State Assembly

AD2

Jodi Giglio (R): 34,290 Votes – 62.39%

Laura Jens-Smith (D): 19,935 Votes – 36.27%

Absentee Ballots: 16,979

AD4

Michael Ross (R): 22,966 Votes – 51.88%

Steve Englebright (D): 21,000 Votes – 47.44%

Absentee Ballots: 17,909

AD8

Mike Fitzpatrick (R): 39,937 Votes – 70.73%

Dylan Rice (D): 16,518 Votes – 29.26%

Absentee Ballots: 17,227

AD10

Steve Stern (D): 24,141 Votes – 49.93%

Jamie Silvestri (R): 24,197 Votes – 50.05%

Absentee Ballots: 18,529

AD12

Keith Brown (R): 30,638 Votes – 57.20%

Michael Marcantonio (D): 22,908 Votes – 42.77%

Absentee Ballots: 15,906

Though Election Day may have passed, local psychologists said the strain partisanship is still causing undue stress and anxiety. Stock photo

Though this year’s election arguably lasted far longer than any other in recent history, the way even the presidential election has lingered in the news has not slowed the amount of stress people are feeling in its wake.

A study conducted by market research firm The Harris Poll for the American Psychological Association, released Oct. 7, said 76% of Democrats, 67% of Republicans and 64% of Independent voters said the election was a major stressor in their lives. 

“Many people are isolated, and in such a politically charged environment, there’s just a lot of uncertainty about the future.”

— Dr. Donna Friedman

Local psychologists have witnessed the general anxiety from their patients and the 2020 election’s impact on mental health. Dr. Donna Friedman said among her clients who go to her in her East Setauket practice, she would agree with the APA’s study. And with the combination of the COVID-19 pandemic and protests all around the country over law enforcement, the level of election stress is something she has never before seen in her near 35 years in private practice. Worse, lingering questions of a peaceful transfer of power and absentee ballot counts have made this period of heightened tension last.

Though people may not have the same political viewpoints, many of them share similar feelings of stress. Every person is different, and among the many issues of an issue-filled age, individuals have a much bigger opportunity to feel anxious. The APA study points out those with chronic health conditions are significantly more likely to say the election is a very significant source of stress for them.

“For some people the issue is Trump and how he treats women, for another person it might be issues with police, how law enforcement has affected them — it depends,” Friedman said. “It’s not across the board everyone feels the same way.”

What people are feeling stressed and anxious about also depends on different demographics. For people of color, the election was even more of a stressor than previous years, such as with Black people at 71% in 2020 compared to just 46% in 2016, according to the APA study. 

Dr. Chris Kearney, a fellow East Setauket-based psychologist, said with all the external factors, this current election has heightened stress further than he’s seen before from any other election.

Kearney, who works with both adolescents and adults, said young people are afraid of what this pandemic and election mean for them right now, whether it will impact their ability to go to college or get a job. Adults are more stuck on where they are, he said, and it’s more difficult for them to open up. 

“For the teens, it’s what’s going to happen in the immediate right now, for the adults they’re very unrelenting — once they have an opinion, it’s hard to interject another rationale,” he said.  

As a therapist, his role is to stay neutral even when his patients talk about their personal political views, though he said for adults it’s important to know such animosity to the other side can become imprinted on younger children. 

Friedman said people being cut off from their social contacts because of the ongoing pandemic has only helped exacerbate the issue, and this stress is much more apparent with older than younger folks. Older people are more afraid of getting sick, or even being alone and getting sick. Younger people speak less about fear of getting sick, but more so how they will be impacted by the election.

“I think that volatility just continues in our everyday life and behaviors, and that’s why that stress level is increased.”

— Dr. Chris Kearney

“Many people are isolated, and in such a politically charged environment, there’s just a lot of uncertainty about the future,” she said. “People are divided from each other when they really do need to feel connected.”

With more people seeking or coming back to therapy, local psychologists said this charged political time has truly damaged relationships among both family and friends. The APA has suggested people need to break habits of ruminating on the worst-case scenario and instead focus on things one can control and engage in meaningful activities.

Friedman said people need to practice good self-care. Part of that includes limiting time one might spend hooked into the 24-hour news cycle. News can become “addicting,” she said, and it might be best to limit oneself to specific points in the day where you can read or watch to catch oneself up. She added people need to focus on maintaining social connections as best as one can, and should also try to distract oneself from the surrounding negativity through hobbies or other interests, anything from gardening to taking walks. 

Kearney said it’s important to not let a difference of opinion between you, your family, friends or even coworkers become volatile.

“I think that volatility just continues in our everyday life and behaviors, and that’s why that stress level is increased and gets even higher,” he said. “If we work together and help each other, we can maybe reduce that volatility in our relationships.”

Abhishek Cherath, 19 from Mumbai, India, said he hopes the most recent election can return a sense of trust to the country’s democratic institutions. Photo by Julianne Mosher

Kaung Kyaw arrived in America when he was 19. “I’ve always thought since I came here that I’m a foreigner, so my opinions really don’t matter,” he said. 

He is just one of more than 4,000 international students who come to study at Stony Brook University from 103 countries. They make up a large, diverse population either living on campus or nearby. Many credit this international community for driving the large numbers of ethnically varied offerings of both shops and restaurants in the Setauket/Stony Brook area. Their inclusion in the community has led to events like the annual Dragon Boat Race Festival in Port Jefferson and the Chinese New Year celebration by the Ward Melville Heritage Organization.

Kaung Kyaw, from Myanmar, expressed his desire to continue his education in the states, but was concerned of how recent activities by the president would make it unlikely. Photo by Julianne Mosher

Kyaw, a 21-year-old student from Myanmar, came to the U.S. in 2018. He said he always had dreamt of coming to the United States and decided to choose SBU as his place of study to become a surgeon. 

But before he traveled here, he remembers hearing that Donald Trump was elected as Republican president back in 2016. Kyaw’s initial thought was, “What were they thinking?”

“I thought it was so funny,” he said. “But now I’m living this reality and it’s not funny anymore.”

Kyaw is currently studying biology. After graduation, he said he would like to hopefully continue his education in the States. That, however, has been complicated by the president’s addition of his home country to a list of nations on a travel ban in January this year.

“If I get to stay here, I would practice here,” he said. “But right now, that’s not possible because of Donald Trump’s travel ban.”

He said that because of the current presidency, his view of America has morphed into a vision that isn’t always that welcoming.

“When he tried to send us all back a few months ago, that was really cruel and was really unfair,” he said. “We pay a lot of money to be here and study here. We don’t deserve this kind of treatment — nobody does.”

During the COVID-19 crisis, Kyaw said he was subjected to racism. He never imagined this when he considered coming here. 

“I thought America would be this amazing place with lots of job opportunities,” he said. “I didn’t think of the racism or any other bad issues here. America was just this dream place to be in. But I got here, and these are topics we cannot escape — I didn’t know how much it’s ingrained into everyone’s minds.”

Minal Chawla, 19 from India, said she was just 17 when she decided to study abroad at Stony Brook. “Before coming to the U.S., I think I never paid much attention to what was happening in American politics and what was going here in general,” she said. “But now I try to keep myself up to date with all the latest happenings because I think in one way or the other, they affect me.”

Chawla, who is studying health sciences and journalism, said that there is so much happening in the U.S. that her future appears a little more unclear because of the uncertainties.

“I have a whole plan of what I want to do after graduation,” she said. “But now looking at the current scenario, I am unsure about whether I will be able to achieve it or not because the immigration policies can change at any moment and things can go south all of a sudden.”

She added that under President-elect Joe Biden’s new Democratic administration, she’s hopeful. “I hope that the decisions they take are in favor of all the international students who plan to work or settle in the U.S. after studies,” she said. “Currently, I am just trying to focus on the bright side and practicing gratitude by reflecting upon the things that I am thankful for.”

Veronica Alvarenga Hon, 21 from Costa Rica, has spent two-and-a-half years in the States. She said that before coming here, she always found the American electoral system to be interesting. In Costa Rica, they elect the president according to popular vote. 

“I do have to say that for a long time, the U.S. portrayed itself as the leader of the free world  — they were an example of what you could achieve by valuing freedom and respecting other people’s rights,” she said. “This, for some reason, made the U.S. seem more liberal in my mind. I was very surprised that many people were very conservative, even by my own standards.”

The 2020 election, to Hon, was polarizing. “President Trump often uses inflammatory rhetoric which only riles people up more,” she said. “I think this is just another example of the populist trend that we are seeing in the world. It was very disappointing to see so many people voting for the opposite of what I would consider American values, such as equality, freedom, respect and tolerance.”

“This, for some reason, made the U.S. seem more liberal in my mind. I was very surprised that many people were very conservative, even by my own standards.”

— Veronica Alvarenga

But she said it’s natural for people to  disagree when it comes to politics. “I just don’t think it’s usually so personal to everyone,” she said.

Hon added that she viewed the election more about getting Trump out of office, rather than liking Biden. 

“The U.S., once the leader of the free world, seems to have forgotten that to lead, you need people that will follow,” she said. “I am hoping that the Biden administration takes a different approach in their foreign policy — one that would consider rejoining the Paris Agreement, the World Health Organization and the JCPOA [known commonly as the Iran nuclear deal].”

Kyaw agreed. ”Trump being the president has shown you how much racism there is in America,” he said. “This was all there before he came in the spotlight. They just started expressing it and people started becoming nastier and nastier. We need to start fixing that.”

Abhishek Cherath, 21 from Mumbai [formerly Bombay] in India said in his opinion bringing back America to what it was before Trump’s presidency will not be easy. 

“The things that are being put at risk by Trumpism are much longer lasting than anything else,” he said. “Politics is dirty. But the only alternative to politics is war — that’s not a good alternative.”

Under a Biden term in office, Cherath said he hopes things will be more pleasant among his American colleagues. 

“I don’t really know what I’m going to do, but I hope America is OK,” he said. “Because there’s a lot of wonderful stuff that happens here, and it will be a real shame to just have that all vanish into a civil war.”

Proposition 2 has become mired in political wrangling with some environmentalists and Republicans saying they would sue if it passes.

Proposal 2, which would allow Suffolk County to tap into a sewer stabilization fund to combat the economic effect of the COVID-19 shutdown, was close to passing during the election this week.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone. Photo by Julianne Mosher

The proposal, which environmental groups including the Long Island Pine Barrens Society indicated they would likely challenge in court, would allow the county to use sales tax revenue from a drinking water protection program. It would also changing an agreement to repay close to $30 million borrowed from the sewer stabilization fund, while using another $15 million from the fund.

During a call with reporters Wednesday, the day after Election Day Nov. 3, County Executive Steve Bellone (D) said the measure would provide financial support for first responders, emergency services workers, and fire and rescue workers.

“I want to thank the people of Suffolk County for passing this common sense measure,” Bellone said on a conference call with reporters. The proposal will “protect taxpayers, first responders and essential workers during a pandemic.”

Legislator Robert Trotta (R-Fort Salonga) said the proposal was about 30,000 votes ahead with about 170,000 absentee ballots still uncounted.

Trotta called the proposal an “affront to the taxpayer,” and that the money was “supposed to be put in a lockbox.” Trotta, as has become customary between the two electeds, also questioned Bellone’s management of the county’s finances before the pandemic.

Trotta alleged Bellone was using the clean water fund to pay for “unaffordable contracts.”

The Suffolk County legislator said that if the Pine Barrens Society didn’t file a lawsuit against the use of these funds to rebuild the county’s finances then he would find a wealthy benefactor for a lawsuit.

Separately, Bellone urged court and election reform during his call.

“We had this perverse situation where voters had to wait in line for hours at a time to exercise their fundamental right to vote, only to find when they were finally handed their ballot” that many court races had been “pre-decided,” Bellone said.

Bellone urged court reform and a process to professionalize the elections.

Amid an upswing in COVID-19 cases around the country, Suffolk County, which was once at the epicenter of the deadly virus, has been experiencing an increase in cases as well. Last week, the county averaged a 1.5 percent positive test rate, while the number of people hospitalized with the virus that has caused the pandemic has climbed to the 40’s. Bellone said the county hadn’t been below the one percent level since Oct. 21st.

“The fact that they are ticking up is a concern within the context of where we are with the cold weather, with winter approaching,” Bellone said. “These numbers are a concern. We remain focused on that, keeping people healthy, keeping these numbers down, and enabling an economic recovery to continue. We can not afford to slide back.”

Bellone said the county has experienced a few clusters of cases. One was at a Southampton polling site and the other was a gathering of people at Shoreham-Wading River schools, which led the high school to go to an all-remote learning model for several weeks.

At this point, Shoreham Wading River High School is closed for in person learning through Nov. 11.

“Even if proper precautions are taken, [people] can end up in a situation like this,” Bellone said, urging residents to remain vigilant about reducing the spread of the virus.

The line to vote at Joseph A. Edgar Intermediate School in Rocky Point was about 30 minutes, but other voters reported much longer lines the early morning of Nov. 3. Photo by Kyle Barr

By Kyle Barr, Rita J. Egan and Julianne Mosher

Capping off months of anticipation, the 2020 election came to a head Tuesday night, though New Yorkers will still need to wait weeks before they know the true outcomes of state and federal races.

As it stands, Republicans have taken an early lead based on unofficial counts of in-person polling numbers by the Suffolk County Board of Elections. Nick LaLota, Republican BOE commissioner, said absentee ballots will start to be tabulated Nov. 10 after the board has had the opportunity to remove the absentee ballots of those voters who also cast a ballot on a machine, and have bipartisan teams compare the signatures on the oath envelopes to the voters signatures on file.

There have been well over 100,000 absentee ballots received in Suffolk County for the three congressional districts alone, and there will likely be more incoming as ballots are received as long as they were postmarked by Election Day. Election experts have also said those absentee ballots are more likely to favor Democrats.

In one of the most contested races for the NY1 Congressional seat, Lee Zeldin has already moved to declare victory. Zeldin is sitting at 61% of in-person votes while Goroff holds a little under 39%. The Zeldin campaign released a statement declaring victory at 11 p.m. Election Day.

“I am deeply honored and humbled that the families of Long Island have entrusted me to continue representing our great Congressional District,” Zeldin said in a statement.

Democratic contender Nancy Goroff’s campaign manager, Jacob Sarkozi, responded at 1:30 a.m. that, “With tens of thousands of ballots left to be opened, we owe it to voters that every single one be counted.”

There are currently 75,091 absentee ballots for CD1 uncounted as of Nov. 4.

Speaking to Goroff the evening of Nov. 3, before polls closed, she said the huge turnout in the district has been “amazing,” adding there has been a good deal of excitement about the coming results.

While in-person votes were still to be counted as of Election Day, with the thousands of absentee ballots still to be counted, she stressed it’s still too early to tell winners with any degree of certainty, but added the turnout is a good sign.

With an energized electorate not seen in many years, polling places across Long Island saw a huge rush early in the morning Nov. 3, with residents across the North Shore reporting hour or more wait times in chilling temperatures. Lines got progressively shorter over the day, and by 8:30 a.m. people were reporting between 20- to 40-minute lines.

The night of Nov. 3, both Suffolk County party committees held online livestream events, rather than the usual election parties held at Stereo Garden in Patchogue for the Republicans and IBEW Local 25 in Hauppauge for the Democrats. The Dems palled around in a short hour-long Zoom call before signing off. The Republicans spent the night taking calls from candidates and committee members, relishing the early polling numbers.

Other congressional races have similarly stalled at a Republican lead. U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-NY3) is currently sitting at 47% to Republican challenger George Santos at 53%.

Kim Devlin, a senior adviser to Suozzi’s campaign, said in a statement they believe Suozzi is guaranteed to win.

“It is clear that Tom will win reelection by a substantial margin,” Devlin said. “Democrats hold a 3-1 advantage in the nearly 90 thousand absentee votes yet to be counted and we expect Tom’s margin of victory to be over 20 thousand votes.”

For state Senate, the race between Democrat Laura Ahearn and current Assemblyman Anthony Palumbo (R-New Suffolk) in District 1 is locked at 43% to 57%, respectively.

Palumbo said in a statement he is “really excited about our position today and [I] feel good about our likelihood of success,” adding he is honored to be close to representing the district occupied by state Sen. Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson).

Ahearn said in a statement that “while the early vote and Election Day in-person vote was not as close as we had hoped,” with more 31,000 mail-in ballots still to be counted, there is a need to be patient and ensure all ballots are counted. She also thanked her supporters, as well as her campaign staff, interns and volunteers “for their dedication and commitment.”

In SD2, Republican Mario Mattera holds a near-30 point lead over his Democratic opponent Mike Siderakis at 64%-36% Wednesday morning. Mattera said he was grateful for all the volunteers who assisted in the campaign.

“I’m so excited for my community,” he said. “I’m so excited for our families.”

Once in Albany, Mattera, who describes himself as “a middle-of-the-road guy,” said he will work to repeal the bail reform act and ensure funding for law enforcement. Continuing to educate the public about precautions to take during the pandemic and helping businesses to open up fully is also on the forefront of his mind. He added he will continue to work on improving the infrastructure in the district. Mattera worked with elected officials and community leaders on the revitalization of Lake Avenue in St. James. He said it’s important to secure a sewage treatment plant that will allow for growth in the area and at the same time will protect local waterways.

Siderakis did not respond to request for comment.

Republican Ed Smyth, who is currently a Town of Huntington councilman, was leading Wednesday morning in the race for state Senate in SD5 with more than 55% of the votes. Sitting state Sen. Jim Gaughran (D) at 43% is vying for his second term.

“I’m not ready to hang a mission-accomplished banner over my office,” Smyth said.

The councilman said he will be watching the results closely as he knows thousands of absentee ballots still need to be counted, and from what he has heard, more Democrats than Republicans requested absentee ballots.

“There’s nothing normal about this election year,” he said.

Gaughran’s spokesperson Marissa Espinoza also said it was too early for anyone to declare victory.

“There are nearly 30,000 absentee votes, the majority of which appear to be from Democrats,” she said. “It is vital that every vote be counted. I’m confident that this full count will favor Senator Gaughran.”

For state Assembly, there are some tight and other not-so-tight races. Republican Jodi Giglio is standing at 62% to her Democratic opponent Laura Jens-Smith’s 36% in District 2.

Jens-Smith said during a phone interview Nov. 4 though there are still ballots to count, it’s likely her opponent has the ball. She said the day’s results show that Democrats need to focus on “rebuilding our base here to make sure that the issues we campaigned on are getting out to the voters better.”

She said she will continue to stay involved in the area, especially to make sure “we continue to have working and middle class here on Long Island.”

Giglio said she was holding on any declarations until all absentee votes are counted, but she thanked GOP leadership, her volunteers and her support from law enforcement and labor.

“Every vote means something to me and I am humbled by the confidence in me from the voters and the vote count thus far,” she said.

28-year incumbent Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) is behind his Republican opponent Michael Ross by close to five points in Assembly District 4 at 47%-52%. There are well over 15,000 absentee ballots to be counted, as of Nov. 4.

Englebright said he is not too concerned at the current polling numbers, as because of the pandemic and so many people voting differently, “I think we’ll be OK … a very substantial number of people who voted absentee ballot — a majority are my vote.”

Ross said he remains cautiously optimistic.

I think that across the board on the Island, the middle class spoke loudly for the Democrats to hear that they’re tired of the Albany agenda, and they’re tired of being ignored and their voices not being heard,” he said.

The day’s vote disparity is most drastically seen in Assembly District 8, with incumbent Mike Fitzpatrick (R-St. James) holding more than 70% of the vote compared to Democratic challenger Dylan Rice’s 29%.

Fitzpatrick said while “the dust still has to settle,” he feels good about where he’s at.

“It was just an unusual campaign,” he said. “I’m used to being out and about in front of people. We did a couple of events, but certainly not like past campaigns.”

Rice did not respond to a request for comment.

In the 12th Assembly District, Republican Keith Brown had more than 57% of the vote, while Democrat Michael Marcantonio had more than 42% of the votes Wednesday morning.

Brown said while he feels good about the lead but he’s not ready to claim victory yet.

“Every vote is important and has to be counted,” he said.

The candidate said his campaign was one based on character and his experience with getting things done, and he was humbled by the support he received from family, friends, the Republican, Conservative and Independent parties as well as law enforcement organizations.

Marcantonio said he was being patient with results and optimistic for him and other Democrats who are currently trailing.

“This is going to look like a very different race in two weeks when all these votes are counted,” he said.

The Democrat said as of Wednesday morning four polling places in the district were not yet counted, and based on conversations his campaign has had with the board of elections and based on other data they have received, there are a little under 13,000 absentee votes that still need to be counted. Marcantonio is down by 8,000 votes.

“The race is far from over,” he said.

The candidate said he knew the race would be a close one, and he congratulated Brown on the strong showing and appreciated the Republican for not declaring victory just yet.

Republican Jamie Silvestri and incumbent Steve Stern (D-Dix Hills) are close to a tie at about 50% each in Assembly District 10, with over 15,000 absentee ballots still to be counted.

“I’m very grateful for all the incredible people who stood by me and supported me throughout the year,” Silvestri said in a phone interview Nov. 4. “I’m optimistic for what’s ahead.”

Stern said that while the numbers are close, there are ballots to be counted over the next week. “It’s a very close race,” he said. “However, there still is a long way to go over the course of the next week in making sure every vote is counted, and when that process is complete I have every confidence that I will have the privilege to represent my community.”

METRO photo

Here is the rub, we’re in tense, dangerous times. We all feel it, a sense of unease blowing on the wind from who knows where. We don’t know what will come in the weeks following election day Nov. 3.

Absentee voting has been around for years, but the pandemic has caused a new swath of residents looking to vote remote. In New York state, boards of elections will not even begin to count absentee ballots until Nov. 6, and that process could take weeks to finish, especially if this year’s Democratic primary is anything to go by. Some experts have said we could not see the final results until December.

Due to this, sites like FiveThirtyEight, which often analyses election polling, said New York may initially skew Republican and then edge Democratic as more absentee ballots are counted.

Effectively, as we look at the preliminary results in the days after Tuesday, we have to remember that nothing is set in stone, especially this year.

It’s only fair that every person who voted in this year’s election is counted, no matter which way they may have voted. Anything else would be undemocratic, and nobody can judge another for deciding to stay home and cast a ballot by mail, especially if they or a person in their family is in the high-risk category for getting COVID-19.

Despite this, President Donald Trump (R) has continually called absentee votes into question, despite the likely fact that many of the people voting for him have cast absentee ballots, and that he himself has voted by mail, specifically by giving it to a third-party individual to return. He has even suggested legal action to mandate only the votes counted by Election Day are applied.

We’ve been trained to want our results election night, but no state has ever fully counted every ballot on the first Tuesday in November. Some states, like North Carolina, are counting absentee ballots that arrive as late as Nov. 12.

And lacking any bombshell reports of vote mismanagement, we have to trust the system. New York’s process double checks each absentee ballot to make sure the person also did not vote in person. Voter fraud remains rare, and multiple states use mail-in ballots as the primary way people can vote in local, state and federal elections.

And what should we expect in those days after? Are we really going to see violence? Will people really accept the outcome of this year’s election? That’s the real question, and as we write this editorial for an issue that comes out two days after the initial results, we cannot say what’s on the horizon.

We urge everyone to stay safe and stay sane. We’re all looking for someone to take the lead in asking for calm, but it seems we should be looking to those in education for a guiding light. Stony Brook University’s new President Maurie McInnis wrote: “While we wait for the results, we are bound to be anxious and tense. Practice patience, extend courtesy and be considerate. When results do come, given the variety of political affiliations that are part of our strength as a diverse community, some are bound to feel elation while others will be disappointed and distressed. I encourage you to reach for empathy. Reach for critical understanding. Reach for the profound combination of caring and intelligence.”

We know tensions will be high, we know the national news will be covering unrest in different parts of the country, but we want to believe our communities have the right mindset to move forward, and that we can stifle the most radical voices with a bulwark of civic mindedness and a sense of neighborly compassion.

Thousands line up to vote Oct. 24 at Brookhaven Town Hall. Photo by Kyle Barr

The following results are not the final election tallies, as the Suffolk County Board of Elections still has to count all absentee ballots starting later this week. All current results will change in the next few weeks, and those finding themselves in even moderately close races could see a shift.

 

Congress

NY1

Lee Zeldin (R): 176317 Votes – 61.31%

Nancy Goroff (D): 111188 Votes – 38.66%

NY3

Tom Suozzi (D): 45981 Votes – 46.61%

George Santos (R): 52045 Votes – 52.76%

 

New York State Senate
SD1

Laura Ahearn (D): 55554 Votes – 42.78%

Anthony Palumbo (R): 74289 Votes – 57.20%

SD2

Mario Mattera (R): 79750 Votes – 64.11%

Mike Siderakis (D): 44622 Votes – 35.87%

SD5

Jim Gaughran (D): 27030 Votes – 43.46%

Ed Smyth (R): 34512 Votes – 55.49%

 

New York State Assembly

AD2

Jodi Giglio (R): 34289 Votes – 62.39% 

Jens Smith (D): 19935 Votes – 36.27%

AD4

Michael Ross (R): 22966 Votes – 51.88%

Steve Englebright (D): 20999 Votes – 47.44%

AD8

Mike Fitzpatrick (R): 39933 Votes – 70.74%

Dylan Rice (D): 16514 Votes – 29.25%

AD10

Steve Stern (D): 23991 Votes – 49.85%

Jamie Silvestri (R): 24126 Votes – 50.13%

AD12

Keith Brown (R): 30554 Votes – 57.30%

Michael Marcantonio (D): 22754 Votes – 42.67%

 

By Kyle Barr and Rita J. Egan

Flags flying, the Trump crowd rolled through local communities Halloween, Oct. 31, despite some local opposition.

Just a few days before the election date Nov. 3, caravans supporting President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign could be seen on major roadways on County Road 83 in Mount Sinai and Route 25A in Port Jefferson and Setauket.

For around 30 minutes, vehicles bearing flags supporting Trump’s reelection rolled down Main Street in Port Jefferson. A crowd of around 20 people stood by the side cheering on the car parade. Most were not wearing masks.

The parade in Port Jefferson was conducted by the right wing online group Setauket Patriots. Their Trumpalozza 3 car parade was a sequel to a separate Trump caravan held Oct. 17, one that lasted for close to an hour and saw hundreds of vehicles rolling down Main Street.

Officials from the Village of Port Jefferson posted a statement to its website and Facebook about before the parade Oct. 28, saying the village does not “condone lawless or disrespectful behavior within our village, regardless of any content or message that any group may convey.” Despite some residents’ complaints of the prior parade, officials said they legally do not have the authority to stop a moving vehicle or issue citations for traffic law.

Both Suffolk County Police and village Code Enforcement were present, keeping spectators behind the barricades and directing traffic down Main Street and up West Broadway.

A crowd of counter protesters, including the North Country Peace Group which normally protest at the corner of North Country Road and Bennetts Road in Setauket, gathered along the south of the road as the caravan passed.

Joining the North Country Peace Group were people holding a rally against police brutality. A few from the south side crossed Route 25A to talk to members of the North Country Patriots who stand across from the peace group every Saturday. One girl walked across the street to stand in front of a member of the Patriots. The two stared each other down for several minutes.

As the caravan passed Bennetts Road, rally members, who held signs showing support for Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and vice president nominee Kamala Harris or that read Black Lives Matter and similar sentiments, knelt or turned their backs on the Trump caravan when it came by. Many raised their fists, a regular symbol for BLM. Police officers on the scene said they would arrest anyone who got out of their cars in the caravan or protesters who went in the street to confront them.

Another car caravan supporting Trump and the reelection of U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY1) got going the same day, starting at the Rose Caracappa Senior Center in Mount Sinai. The caravan, formed by the Brookhaven Town Republican Committee and online group Brookhaven Republican Friends, saw about 20 people and their vehicles stream down Patchogue-Mount Sinai Road going south before eventually turning onto Sunrise Highway and ending at Zeldin’s Shirley offices.

Additional reporting by Julianne Mosher and Steven Zaitz

Legislator Rob Trotta, center, was joined by Republican lawmakers and a few environmentalists to decry proposition 2. Photo from Trotta's office

Several Suffolk County Legislators and a New York assemblyman urged residents to reject proposal 2, which County Executive Steve Bellone (D) put on the ballot to help close the financial gap caused by the pandemic.

If approved, the proposal, which was added to the ballot in July after a 14-3 vote in the county Legislature, would reduce the sewer stabilization fund by $180 million and move $15 million to the general fund. Bellone had proposed the moves to shore up the county’s finances after the economy stopped during the COVID-19-related shutdown.

“My hope is that Suffolk voters will ultimately see this proposal for what it is – a ploy to bail out Bellone’s mismanagement,” Legislator Rob Trotta (R-Fort Salonga) said in a statement.

“Proposal two has to be defeated,” Lee Koppelman, former Executive Director of the Long Island Regional Planning Board and the past head of the SUNY Stony Brook Center for Regional Policy Studies, said in a statement. “It is wrong to take money from a dedicated fund to balance the budget.”

While several of the politicians who opposed the proposal were republicans, Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) also decried the measure.

“I already voted and I voted against Proposition Two,” Englebright said in a statement. “I am totally against taking money from this fund to cover county expenses and I encourage the residents of Suffolk County to vote no, too.”

The Long Island Pine Barrens Society also opposed the proposal, suggesting the area needed the funds were needed to replace polluting septic systems with nitrogen-removing technology as well as sewers.

The Suffolk County Drinking Water Protection Program was created in 1987 by a 0.25% sales tax to fund water quality initiatives, the preservation of open space and control taxes in sewer districts.

Bellone has indicated that the measures would prevent layoffs of county workers that might be necessary to balance the budget. He also said on several calls to get the measure on the ballot that the county would not spend any less money on existing environmental programs.

The county executive has also indicated that the sewer funds can either protect taxpayers against higher sewer tax rates or against higher taxes that might be necessary to prevent a reduction in services.

On the ballot this year is also Proposition 1, which will extend the term of legislators from two years to four years.