Nassau Republican Legis. Ed Mangano has expanded his lead against Democratic incumbent Tom Suozzi in the hair-splitting race for county executive, according to the latest ballot numbers from the county Board of Elections.
Teams of volunteers, Board of Elections workers and attorneys for both candidates have been working tirelessly since the Nov. 3 election to recount and verify the more than 245,000 votes cast in the battle through voting machines. On Nov. 16, the crews began counting, verifying and sometimes challenging each of the more than 8,000 absentee and affidavit paper ballots that will ultimately determine who will serve as the next top-elected official in Nassau.
More than four dozen such people crammed into a back room at Board of Elections headquarters in Mineola Nov. 17 to continue that process, with many seated at tables spanning the length of the room. Volunteers and elections workers sit on the left, attorneys for Suozzi and Mangano directly across from them, on the right. The latter maintain their own tallies to report back to their respective candidate. They also verify the validation of each ballot—occasionally challenging them if a signature did not match that on file, for example. Those challenges will be decided by State Supreme Court Justice Edward McCarty.
Crates upon crates of yet-to-be-counted ballots line the walls.
Suozzi had been up by 237 votes at the end of Election Night. Mangano took the lead last week by 497 votes following a re-canvassing of voting machines. Now, that lead has grown to 554 votes, according to Republican Board of Elections Commissioner John A. DeGrace, citing the latest official ballot figures following the first day of the absentee and affidavit count.
Those numbers also show Democratic incumbent county Comptroller Howard Weitzman down by 1,019 votes against his Republican challenger George Maragos, and Republican Joe Belesi leading Democratic incumbent Legis. Dave Mejias by 142 votes. Weitzman had trailed Maragos by 576 votes following Election Night. Belesi had led Mejias by just 28 votes prior to the recount.
DeGrace tells the Press the counting will continue full-speed ahead the remainder this week and straight through next week, stopping only for Thanksgiving holiday. He explains the process must wrap up by Nov. 27, though depending on the amount of challenges and the decision of Justice McCarty, it could take longer.
For now, the count continues, at a pace of about 800 to 1,000 ballots per day.