The counting of paper ballots in Nassau County's closely contested elections was completed Monday with Republican challenger Edward Mangano holding a commanding 377-vote lead over Democratic incumbent County Executive Thomas Suozzi, election officials said.
In addition, Democratic Nassau County Legis. David Mejias of Farmingdale conceded defeat Monday to Republican challenger Joseph Belesi, giving the GOP a two-seat majority on the 19-member Nassau legislature.
Still, the completed count was unofficial. Tuesday, lawyers for the Democrats and Republicans will review some of the disputed paper ballots to see if they can reduce the 600 challenged ballots they will submit to the judge assigned to oversee the results, which must be certified by the Nassau County Board of Elections. The challenged votes could be considered when they are reported Wednesday to Justice Edward McCarty of State Supreme Court in Mineola.
Suozzi, who trailed by 213 votes Monday morning, said he expected the outcome to be decided by "this time next week."
While not predicting the winner, Suozzi said he was not inclined to challenge the results in court "unless there is some crazy fraud that took place."
His lawyer, Steven Schlesinger, had said earlier he might try to overturn the entire election if there was an "overcount" because some voting machine registered more votes on Election Day than there were signatures in the sign-in book.
"I don't want to prolong this thing," Suozzi said. "I'd like to win the race, obviously, but if my opponent wins the race, I'm not going to want to strap him by not having the opportunity to do a transition."
Mangano said later, "I am very, very excited. We are up 377 votes and all I can say is it's very good for us."
"I called Joe Belesi and congratulated him," Mejias said. "I told him I would do anything I could to aid in the transition."
The final, but unofficial, tally showed Belesi with 7,404 votes to 7,236 for Mejias - a margin that would not be affected by the 20 paper ballots that remain uncounted after being challenged by one side or the other.
The losses of Mejias and Democratic Legis. Jeffery Toback of Oceanside also remove any possibility that Democrats could hold onto the majority by wooing Legis. Denise Ford of Long Beach, a registered Democrat who sits with the Republican caucus, and usually votes Republican.