Suffolk's Board of Elections begins count of over 160,000 absentee ballots
With some Long Island races still up in the air weeks after Election Day, the Suffolk Board of Elections began the process of counting absentee ballots and affidavits Monday.
The process kicked off under the watchful eyes of Board of Elections workers, Democratic and Republican representatives and volunteers from campaigns that are still waiting on the final count.
The county says it has received about 168,000 absentee ballots. The board will count any absentee ballot that is postmarked by Nov. 3 and received by Nov. 10. Military ballots have until Tuesday to come in.
Nick LaLota, the Republican commissioner for Suffolk's BOE, says every ballot is under scrutiny.
"That if there's a flaw in any of the material, the envelope, the signatures, when the envelope was stamped or when we received it, that they're here to point out that issue to ensure that the valid votes get counted," says LaLota.
LaLota says if any issues are pointed out, it gets set aside and does not get opened until a court orders it opened or destroyed.
The absentee counting process will prove to be decisive in both Nassau and Suffolk, with races in the state Senate and Assembly still hanging in the balance, along with the 3rd Congressional District race, which is incredibly close pre-absentee ballot count.
As for how the county is making sure the process is fair, LaLota says both major parties having representation is key.
"The major parties don't trust each other and in this building, Republican employees check and double-check the work of Democrat employees and vice versa," says LaLota.
LaLota says they hope to be done counting before Thanksgiving but isn't sure that will happen.