Which party will control the Nassau County Legislature next year may not be known before early December.
With all precincts reporting, Republicans have an 11-8 majority in the legislature, holding slim leads in the 14th and 18th districts. Both races, however, are heading to a paper recount that could take several weeks to conclude, both sides said.
Wednesday, Democratic Party chairman Jay Jacobs and Republican chairman Joe Mondello, as they do every year, filed an order to show cause in State Supreme Court compelling the Board of Elections to begin counting all paper ballots. A court date is set for Nov. 16.
Mondello spokesman Anthony Santino said the recount would begin after the Nov. 15 deadline to receive all outstanding absentee ballots. Ballots must be postmarked by Nov. 7.
Lawyers for both parties will spend the next few weeks recanvassing all hand-signed emergency and affidavit ballots, said Democratic Elections Commissioner William Biamonte. Those ballots are cast on paper because of questions about the voter's eligibility.
Returned absentee ballots in the 14th District lean heavily toward GOP incumbent Joe Belesi, according to elections data. Absentee ballots in the 18th District so far break virtually 50-50 between the two candidates, the data shows.
"At the end of the day we are confident that we will have an 11-8 majority," Santino said.
Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano said the election results were a vindication of Republican policies.
"The people have spoken," Mangano said at event in Plainview. "They understand that we have to right-size government, less taxes and that's what we are doing."
In the tightest legislative race, Republican Robert Germino Jr. leads Democrat Delia DeRiggi-Whitton by just 37 votes for the open seat in the 18th District.
Voters in the district, represented by Democrat Diane Yatauro, requested 875 absentee ballots, of which 543 have been returned.
The race appeared to be over Tuesday night with Democrats claiming victory. But Republicans moved ahead as the final votes were counted.
"I have three words for Mr. Jay Jacobs for prematurely declaring my opponent the winner: 'Dewey Defeats Truman,' " Germino said, citing the famously incorrect newspaper headline.
DeRiggi-Whitton said she was "cautiously optimistic" that she would eventually win.
In the 14th District, Belesi leads Democrat Eva Pearson by 51 votes. District voters requested 799 absentee ballots, of which 520 have been returned.
Pearson is bracing for a long recount process. "As a candidate, there's nothing left to do but wait," she said.
Belesi, a retired police sergeant, said the results were "vindication" after county police unions pulled their endorsement last week because of his vote for the 2012 budget.
With John Valenti
and James T. Madore