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Eyes on John Brooks-Michael Venditto race for control of State Senate

John Brooks, Democratic candidate for New York State

John Brooks, Democratic candidate for New York State Senate 8th District. Credit: James Escher

Albany is closely watching the count of absentee votes on Long Island to determine who will control the State Senate.

Each party has 31 seats in the 63-seat chamber, so the 8th District contest between incumbent Republican Michael Venditto and Democratic nominee John Brooks, who led the Election Day tally by 33 votes, is important to who will hold the gavel. Various independent Democrats are waiting before deciding which side to support.

Some advice: This will take at least a few weeks.

Tuesday is the deadline for the return of paper absentee ballots, and a state-required recount of all the machine votes is not until next Wednesday. There are slightly more than 6,100 absentee ballots from the Nassau County part of the district, and 1,300 from Suffolk. Add to that about 1,500 affidavit ballots of voters who showed up at the wrong polling place and couldn’t be found in registration books. All told, that’s nearly 9,000 pieces of paper to check.

The counting starts on Monday for three days and then resumes the Monday after Thanksgiving.

After that, it’s a matter of how long the attorneys for each side want the process to take, because the usual rules for challenging ballots don’t apply. While most absentees tend to vote in alignment with their party, this year more Republicans are likely to have cast an anti-Venditto vote to protest the senator’s father, John Venditto, the Town of Oyster Bay supervisor who is under federal indictment. However, many Democrats may have strayed to Donald Trump on the top of the GOP line and stayed there down the ballot as well.

But if most absentee ballots were returned after the elder Venditto’s indictment on Oct. 20, but before FBI Director James Comey’s email bombshell about Hillary Clinton on Oct. 28, this may not be that close after all.

This post originally appeared in The Point, the editorial board’s daily newsletter about New York politics. Click here to subscribe.


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