Recounts complete on Nassau County races

Nassau election officials have completed recounts in three disputed county legislative districts, and unofficial results show Democrats have picked up one seat but Republicans will retain the majority.

While a judge still is examining challenged ballots, Democratic and Republican election officials said there aren't enough to overturn leads held by Democrat CarriƩ Solages in the 3rd District, GOP incumbent Joseph Belesi in the 14th and Democrat Delia DeRiggi-Whitton in the 18th. If the results hold, the GOP would have a 10-9 majority.

However, a mandated canvass of 3 percent -- 35 -- of the county's voting machines is not complete. If officials were to find significant differences between computerized tallies from the machines and the number of paper ballots voters filled out, they could order a wider survey.

Republican Elections Commissioner Louis Savinetti said it appeared that Solages, Belesi and DeRiggi-Whitton have won, "but it will have to be ruled on by the court before we can officially certify the results" of the Nov. 8 election.

In the 3rd District, Solages leads Legis. John Ciotti (R-North Valley Stream) by 313 votes, with only about 50 challenges left to be settled. The seat would be a pickup for the Democrats, who have eight seats to the Republicans' 11. Ciotti, a 16-year incumbent, has not conceded.

In the 14th District, Belesi, of Farmingdale, is ahead of Democrat Eva Pearson by 108 votes, with 40 still under challenge.

In the race for the open seat in the 18th District, held by Democratic Legis. Diane Yatauro of Glen Cove, who is retiring, DeRiggi-Whitton leads Republican Robert Germino by 31 votes, with only 22 votes facing challenges.

On Monday, the case is due back before State Supreme Court Justice Vito DeStefano, who on Wednesday asked the two sides to review challenged ballots and try to resolve as many as possible before returning to court.

Steve Schlesinger, the lawyer for the Nassau Democrats, said the challenged ballots could be important if the 3-percent sampling of voting machines were to find "significant" discrepancies. He said he expects the sampling to be complete by Monday or Tuesday. The legislative elections have considerable significance this year. If the Republicans maintain the majority, they will be in charge of redrawing legislative districts next year. The plan will be in effect for a decade.

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