Spin Cycle

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Democrats eye unscanned ballots in Nassau 7th SD

Just to underscore how crucial -- once again -- the whole morass of vote-counting, recanvassing, certifications and potential procedural challenges might be in deciding who runs the state Senate after Jan. 1:

Democratic operatives now note that it is conceivable, though far from assured, that their party could pick up two more seats that have so far been counted as clear GOP re-elections following Tuesday's voting.

One is on Long Island, the other in New York City’s northern suburbs.

In Nassau, where first-term Sen. Jack Martins (R-Mineola) led by some 3,600 in the early tabulations, the Democrats are talking about as many as 7,000 “unscanned” machine votes. When operations fail at a voting machine, the paper ballot is submitted separately to be counted later.

In this race, backers of Democrat Daniel Ross in the 7th District suggest that many of these unscanned ballots were cast in areas of the district such as Elmont that are  Democratic strongholds and, once tallied, could close the gap.

There are also perhaps 8,000 to 9,000 absentee ballots, they say, and these tend to break in most elections along the same proportions as the machine ballots.

Ross on Saturday wasn’t claiming victory -- only describing why he believes such a catch-up scenario is plausible. The 7th Senate District is where, in 2010, an extremely close vote and weekslong court process eventually came out with Martins unseating Democratic Sen. Craig Johnson, thus barely swinging the Senate majority back to the GOP.

Martins said Sunday he's confident of the ultimate win, and that many unscanned ballots should actually go his way. Despite what he described as a generically tough turnout year for Republicans, he said, he appreciated having drawn enough people off the Democratic line to prevail.

"I don't have any concern" about the outcome, he said.

Discussing results so far, Martins said he carried the Mineola-Williston area, his original home base, by 2 to 1, as well as Ross's Manhasset home turf, 2 to 1, but lost New Castle 20 to 1, about 4000 to 200 votes, and Elmont 2 to 1.

Meanwhile Democrats are also talking up a similar scenario for last week’s vote in the 40th Senate District, where Republican Sen. Greg Ball, from the Westchester-Putnam area, is in the lead but where there were also a number of machine breakdowns considered worth accounting for.

From the opposite side, as earlier reported, Republicans are still hopeful of picking up a newly created Capital District seat, the 46th Senate District, where Democrat Cecilia Tkaczyk showed a very slight 139-vote edge over Republican Assemb. George Amedore. And, there are other counts that could counter first-glance results.

Given the close majority-minority margins, every seat counts to determine who will be elected Senate majority leader for the two-year term that begins in January.

Regarding the Nassau and Westchester races, Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria), who heads the party's Senate campaign committee, said "we are monitoring" the tallies.

Tags: Daniel Ross , Jack Martins , Greg Ball , Republicans , Democrats , 7th S.D. , scanners , Nassau , Westchester

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