Gershon, Ahearn Lead At Polls, But Mountain Of Absentee Ballots Remain To Be Counted

Candidates for the Democratic nomination for the 1st District State Senate seat took part in a Zoom debate sponsored by the League of Women Voters.

If anything, the age of coronavirus should teach the importance of patience for people who expect to get things like reliable election results delivered within minutes of the polls closing.

With thousands of absentee ballots outstanding — an estimated 85,000 have already been received by the Suffolk County Board of Elections and more are expected to arrive in the coming days — the final results of Tuesday’s Democratic primary races may not be known for two weeks.

For now, based on unofficial voting machine tallies taken from the BOE website, here’s what’s known.

In the race or the 1st District Democratic congressional nomination, East Hampton businessman Perry Gershon holds a slim, 5,166-5,002, lead over Stony Brook University chemistry professor Nancy Goroff with 35.4 percent of the vote to her 34.3 percent. Suffolk

County Legislator Bridget Fleming lags behind with 4,062 votes or 27.8 percent of the total, while perennial candidate Gregory Fischer received only 322 votes, or 2.2 percent.

The five-way race for the Democratic nomination for State Senate appears to have narrowed to a three-way race. Laura Ahearn, the executive director of the Crime Victims Center, is leading Brookhaven Town Councilwoman Valerie Cartright by a 2,360-2,120 vote margin. Ms. Ahearn received 31 percent of the machine votes, while Ms. Cartright has 27.9 percent. Southampton Town Councilman Tommy John Schiavoni is in third place with 1,812 votes or 23.8 percent of ballots cast. College student Skyler Johnson, who has 945 votes, or 12.4 percent of the tally, and nurse and union official Nora Higgins, who received 356 votes, or 4.7 percent of the total, lagged behind.

There were no surprises in the Democratic presidential primary, where former Vice President Joe Biden holds a commanding lead statewide over Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.

Statewide, Mr. Biden received 498,817 votes, or 67.4 percent of those cast, while Mr. Sanders had 141,286, or 19.1 percent of the total. In the 1st Congressional District, Mr. Biden’s share of the vote was even larger. He received 10,424 votes, or 71.7 percent of the total to Mr. Sanders’s 2,660 votes, or 18.3 percent.

Anita Katz, the Democratic commissioner of the Suffolk County Board of Elections, said Wednesday morning that her office had been inundated with 20 to 25 trays of absentee ballots a day leading up to the election. To be eligible, ballots had to be postmarked by June 23, and Ms. Katz said she had no way of knowing how many ballots are still in the mail.

“You have to understand, this was a unique election with very specific criteria,” she said of the consolidation of polling places and large number of absentee ballots going out in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

Ms. Katz said ballots would be counted starting July 1, but she noted the BOE is closed on July 3 and said final results would not be known until the following week at the earliest.
There were scattered reports of voters not receiving both their presidential and congressional and state ballots.

Sag Harbor Village Trustee Aidan Corish said he went to the Sag Harbor Firehouse shortly after 7 a.m. to cast his vote in person and did not realize until afterward that he had not received his presidential ballot. His wife, Louise Corish, went about an hour later and had the same problem. He said he called the BOE and was told he could return to the voting place and cast an affidavit ballot, which would be reviewed before being counted. But Mr. Corish said when he returned, he was allowed to cast a second ballot without signing the affidavit.

“I blame it on confusion and incompetence, not malfeasance,” he said.

Voters who arrived later in the day did receive both ballots.

Ms. Katz said Mr. Corish’s experience was one of a few scattered cases where both ballots were not handed out. And she stressed that he should not have been allowed to vote without first filling out an affidavit.

There were also scattered reports of voters being sent to the wrong polling places or finding out when they arrived at their regular polling places that they had been closed as the BOE consolidated the number of polling places.

A handful of candidates were reached Wednesday morning.

“I’m optimistic that my lead after in-person results will continue to build momentum after absentee ballots are counted,” said Mr. Gershon. “I knew from the 11 town halls I’ve held since last September, including the last five, that were held virtually, that my message of fighting for Long Island’s interests instead of Washington insiders was resonating. My support comes from all parts of the district, which will be a key to victory in November.”

Jacob Sarkozi, who handles media inquiries for Ms. Goroff’s congressional campaign, said she was encouraged by the turnout and support she had received. “The enthusiasm that fueled the primary’s unprecedented turnout will carry over into November when we will flip NY-1,” he said.

“I am proud of the positive campaign that we ran,” said Mr. Schiavoni, who was in third place in the State Senate race. “I’m proud of the team, and our fingers are crossed.”

Laura Ahearn, the early leader in the Senate race, said she was gratified that so many voters had turned out to support her. “We put together a strong campaign — and I had never run a campaign before,” she said. “It was a challenge for a person who is not well known in individual Democratic committees.” She said her campaign team had worked hard to get out the vote, “and now we just have to wait for the rest of the votes to be cast.”