Absentee ballots to decide outcome of tight Nassau County executive race
It was a monumental election night for Republicans across Long Island - with a major race still undecided.
One of the biggest upsets could be in the race for Nassau County executive. It all hinges upon the absentee ballot count, which officials say will be done slowly and carefully.
Board of Elections officials say members from both political parties will be present when they are opened.
"It's very important for the public to know we're not going to sacrifice accuracy for speed, " says James Scheuerman, Democratic Elections Commissioner.
Republican Bruce Blakeman, a Hempstead Town councilman and former presiding officer of the Nassau County Legislature, is declaring victory over Laura Curran.
"I'm very confident that we won," says Blakeman. "It would be very improbable that they would get so many absentee ballots that they would be able to overturn 11,000 votes. So, we're feeling very confident."
Curran released a statement last night stating in part, "This is not over, and we must trust the process. Every Nassau resident who participated in this election is owed the opportunity to have their voice heard."
Democrats are still not giving up hope.
Scheuerman says the main goal is to count the votes, make sure every vote counts, and that no one gets to vote twice.
Jack Ryan, counsel to the Republican commissioner, will also take part in the ballot counting process. He says paper ballots are carefully inspected by Board of Election workers as well as lawyers from both parties.
"Everybody is watching everybody else," says Ryan. "And it has worked in the past and I believe it will work this time."
There are just over 21,000 absentee ballots waiting to be counted. Experts say for every two absentee ballots returned by Democrats, there's one from a Republican.
Political analyst Mike Dawidziak says it might not be enough to put Curran over the top.
"If you do the math on that she should pick up about 6,000 votes," says Dawidziak. "It's mathematically possible but it's very tight. Right now, there's not enough paper in to overturn it."
Absentee ballots can arrive at the Board of Elections up until Nov. 9 as long as they were postmarked by Election Day. Workers are not expected to begin counting the ballots until next week.