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Nassau officials continue paper ballot count

Nassau County Board of Elections workers, lawyers and

Nassau County Board of Elections workers, lawyers and observers count paper ballots, which will decide the race for county executive. (Nov. 17, 2009) Credit: Howard Schnapp

Teams of Board of Elections employees and political party workers settled into a routine Wednesday as they went through their third day counting paper ballots in Nassau County's closely contested election races.

Some lawyers who showed up in suits for the first two days were in jeans Wednesday, and the buzz among the teams was whether they would have to work on the weekend after Thanksgiving. That's still up the air, officials said.

The laborious work seemed to begin by itself Wednesday, unlike Tuesday, when the teams waited patiently until the chief clerk of the board, Lauren Corcoran-Doolin, announced cheerfully: "Everybody! We're ready to launch!"

Wednesday, it took less than an hour for the first quirky problem to surface - this one drawing a flock of lawyers and party activists to Table 4, where the workers had opened an absentee ballot and found that someone claiming power of attorney had filled it out for the voter.

Lawyers for both Republican and Democratic candidates agreed that it should be voided, one of the few ballots that will not even be forwarded to the judge overseeing the election results.

"You can use power of attorney to take mom's money, but you can't use power of attorney to take her vote," one of the lawyers said as he walked away from the table.

There are more than 8,000 paper ballots - 7,165 absentee and 927 affidavit - to be processed after some 245,000 people voted on machines on Election Day.

Justice Edward McCarty, who is supervising the election results, was scheduled to meet with lawyers Friday in state Supreme Court in Mineola to discuss their progress.

At the close of counting on Wednesday, incumbent County Executive Thomas Suozzi, a Democrat, was trailing Republican challenger Edward Mangano by 553 votes.

The incumbent Democratic comptroller, Howard Weitzman, was trailing Republican challenger George Maragos by 976 votes as of Wednesday, and County Legis. David Mejias (D-Farmingdale) was trailing Republican challenger Joseph Belesi by 164 votes.

All the certified ballots were counted in the race for three at-large seats on five-member Long Beach City Council, but it was still too close to call with an estimated 150 contested paper ballots awaiting a ruling from the judge.

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