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Ruling in Anker-Sweeney contest delayed until at least next week

Sarah Anker, Democratic incumbent candidate for Suffolk Legislature

Sarah Anker, Democratic incumbent candidate for Suffolk Legislature 6th District, left, and Brendan Sweeney, Republican candidate for Suffolk County Legislature 6th District. Credit: James Escher

Official results in the race between Suffolk County Legis. Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) and Republican Brendan Sweeney won’t be known until at least next week after a county judge delayed ruling on the validity of dozens of challenged ballots, officials said Tuesday.

Suffolk County Supreme Court Justice Paul J. Baisley ruled Monday that officials must conclude a hand recount of ballots — required by state law when the voting margin is close — before he reviews 74 ballots challenged by Republicans in the 6th District race.

Sweeney, who led by nearly 1,200 votes on election night, was up by just 12 votes after absentee and affidavit ballots were counted, officials said.

That count doesn’t include the challenged ballots, which Republicans objected to over concerns such as voter signatures not matching. Elections officials were split by party lines on whether the ballots were valid, officials said.

Sweeney, a Brookhaven Town citizens advocate, asked the court to review those ballots last week.

The judge sided with GOP lawyers, who asked for the hand count to be completed before Baisley ruled to avoid potential future court cases over the same race, Suffolk Republican Chair Jesse Garcia said. State law requires a recount when the voting margin is 20 votes or less, or below 0.5%.

Because of the Thanksgiving holiday, a hand recount likely wouldn’t conclude until next week, officials said.

Suffolk Democratic spokesman Keith Davies said all challenged ballots are from registered Democrats. "We still feel confident Sarah is going to win," Davies said.

Garcia said Sweeney is still ahead.

The results of the 6th District race will decide whether Republicans gain a supermajority of 12 legislators, enough to override vetoes and pass legislation and bonds without Democratic support. The caucus, including Selden Conservative Nicholas Caracappa, won at least 11 seats in elections this month.

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