Zeldin Win Assured, Palumbo Holds Wide Lead Amid Large Turnout And Strong Republican Showing In Suffolk

Poll Worker Caroline Cutaia celebrates after helping Billy Sonenfield cast his ballot at the polling station at the Sag Harbor firehouse on Election Day morning. MICHAEL HELLER

U.S. Representative Lee Zeldin, a Republican, appears certain to win reelection to a fourth term in Congress, even with tens of thousands of heavily-Democratic absentee ballots left to be counted, thanks to a strong Republican showing at in-person polling.

GOP State Senate candidate Anthony Palumbo also holds a wide enough lead over his Democratic opponent, Laura Ahearn, that his capturing of the seat held by Senator Kenneth P. LaValle for the last 33 years may also be a foregone conclusion, even though absentee votes will likely narrow the margin considerably.

President Donald Trump and Vice President Michael Pence received more than 55 percent of the votes cast by Suffolk County residents in-person on Election Day and during the 10 days of early voting last month.

The race for Southampton Town Justice and one of the two Suffolk County propositions on the back of this year’s ballot both hang in the balance of the counting of the more than 120,000 absentee ballots that have been received by the BOE thus far and won’t be counted until next week.

A patriotically-dressed voter picks up his ballot at the polling station at the Sag Harbor firehouse on Election Day morning. MICHAEL HELLER

Mr. Zeldin declared victory over Ms. Goroff shortly after 11:30 on Tuesday night, with his lead standing at a little more than 65,000 votes after in-person ballots had been tallied.

“I am deeply honored and humbled that the families of Long Island have entrusted me to continue representing our great Congressional District,” he said. “As America enters its next chapter, I am confident we will defeat the Coronavirus and continue growing our economy. To achieve these goals, that means working across the political aisle. Having been ranked the 12th most bipartisan Congressman in America by Georgetown University and the Lugar Center, I look forward to continuing to do my part to make those goals a reality.”

Ms. Goroff has yet to concede the race. Her campaign manager, Jacob Sarkozi, issued a statement on Wednesday morning saying the campaign will withhold concession until all the absentee ballots have been opened.

“With tens of thousands of ballots left to be opened, we owe it to voters that every single one be counted,” the statement, sent in an email, said.

Huge numbers of absentee ballots remain to be counted next week, about half of them from Democrats and another quarter from voters with no political party affiliation.

Mr. Zeldin captured about 61 percent of the 287,505 ballots cast in person. As of Tuesday, there were about 65,000 absentee ballots from 1st Congressional District voters being held by the Suffolk County Board of Elections and as many as 44,000 more that were sent to voters but are have not yet been received by the BOE that could still be added to the tally — though many of those may have been requested by people who ended up voting at the polls.

New York State rules also allow that absentee ballots may be received and counted by the Board of Elections up to a week after Election Day, as long as they were mailed and postmarked on or before Election Day itself.

Voters fill out their ballots at the polling station at the Sag Harbor firehouse on Election Day morning. MICHAEL HELLER

About 31,000 of the ballots received thus far were returned by Democrats, while registered Republican and Conservative voters account for about 16,000. More than 15,000 absentee ballots were received from voters who are not registered with any political party.

Mr. Palumbo holds a nearly 19,000 vote margin over Ms. Ahearn. As of Tuesday morning, the BOE had received 31,771 absentee ballots from residents of the State Senate district that covers the five East End towns. About 15,000 of those ballots were from Democrats and about 7,800 were from Independence Party or unaffiliated voters.

State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. seems poised to win reelection fairly easily. Mr. Thiele, who is registered with the Independence Party, leads his Republican challenger, Heather C. Collins, by about 3,500 votes in a district where Democrats dominate the absentee ballot returns.

In the race for Southampton Town Justice, the lone local race on this year’s ballot, Republican Candidate Patrick J. Gunn leads Democratic candidate Karen Sartain by a little more than 200 votes, but there are some 6,400 absentee ballots from just Southampton residents left to be counted, nearly half of which came from Democratic voters.

A proposal on the ballot that would extend Suffolk County legislator terms from two years to four was resoundingly rejected by more than 70 percent of in-person voters, a difference that could not be closed with the current number of absentee ballots to be counted.

A second proposal, however, which would allow cash-strapped Suffolk County to use a portion of an unused sewer tax rate stabilization program for other county expenses, was approved. The proposal has been a point of bitter dispute between Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and Long Island Pine Barrens Society Executive Director Richard Amper. Those county voters who cast ballots in person over the last two weeks favored approving the proposal 53.8 percent to 46.20 percent — a difference of a little more than 38,000 votes — a margin that absentee ballots could potentially swing once they are tabulated.

Turnout overall in this year’s election was heavy.

In 2016, there were a little more than 677,000 votes cast for the presidential race in Suffolk County. If all of the absentee ballots received by the BOE thus far include a vote in the presidential race, the total number of votes cast would be upwards of 710,000 and at least 352,400 voters would have cast ballots in the 1st Congressional District race, about 28,600 votes more than were cast in the race in 2016.