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Tug of war

Kevin Thomas.

Kevin Thomas. Credit: James Escher

Daily Point

A shifting vote count in Nassau

Some tight Long Island legislative races may be shifting now that Nassau County is days into its absentee and affidavit ballot count.

Exhibit A is the contest between first-term State Sen. Kevin Thomas and Hempstead Town Councilman Dennis Dunne Sr., which saw the Democratic incumbent down nearly 8,000 votes on election night after early and Election Day in-person voting had been tabulated.

By late Monday afternoon, however, Thomas was up by more than 1,400 votes, according to Nassau Democratic party chair Jay Jacobs. The count is expected to continue Tuesday but as of 3 p.m. there were around 6,000 paper ballots remaining, approximately 2,600 from Democrats, just over 2,000 from Republicans, and approximately 1,600 from unaffiliated voters.

The breakdown of which ballots came from which party so far suggests that Thomas was faring very well among crucial unaffiliated voters — so well that Jacobs thinks that nothing will change the outcome of the race even though more ballots remain to be counted this week. By Monday evening, Thomas had claimed victory in SD6.

If the trend holds, that would bode well for some other Democrats, including Port Washington Assembly candidate Gina Sillitti, who is likely to overtake Republican Ragini Srivastava.

In the presidential count for the county, President Donald Trump was up by approximately 6,000 votes on election night, but that race also saw a flip to Democratic opponent Joe Biden, with the county Board of Elections website showing a lead by President-elect Joe Biden of more than 15,000 votes.

There are still plenty of ballots to be counted, including in races that cross county lines like the 2nd and 3rd Congressional Districts and the tight race between State Sen. Jim Gaughran and Republican Ed Smyth.

Suffolk started counting its own paper ballots on Monday.

"Counting Babylon and Huntington today," said Republican elections commissioner Nick LaLota Monday morning.

—Mark Chiusano and Rita Ciolli @mjchiusano and @ritaciolli

Talking Point

Back to her roots

Laura Curran’s last writing job was in the mid-aughts, for the old Long Island section of the Daily News. But now the former tabloid scribe and current Nassau County executive has landed the biggest freelance prize of them all with a 5,000-plus-word essay on the New Yorker’s website.

The new piece, "How a Long Island County Fought COVID-19: A county executive looks back on the first wave," is a tick-tock of Curran’s calendar as the coronavirus crisis approached and engulfed Nassau. It includes cameos by the likes of "top aides" Helena Williams and Mike Santeramo, along with Tatum Fox, Evlyn Tsimis, and the ever-present county Health Commissioner Lawrence Eisenstein, affectionately called Dr. Larry throughout the piece.

Curran writes about fearing that a teacher back from Italy would be the county’s first positive case, the week before Curran herself was scheduled to give her state-of-the-county speech at the high school where that teacher worked.

She writes about going for runs on the streets next to "[d]iscarded blue hospital gloves" and about speaking by phone to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo about school closures while on her porch swing.

And she remembers going to D.C. on March 2 for a National Association of Counties convention at which "[President Donald] Trump briefed us on the coronavirus." She says he "spoke frankly and seemed to grasp that it was a serious issue. County governments would have an important role to play, he said, because they know so much about their residents."

Curran tells The Point that someone from her team reached out to the prestigious magazine about a piece "and lo and behold they bit." She says she didn’t feel comfortable taking money for her work and asked that the outlet donate the sum to charity.

She went through multiple drafts with an "incredibly thorough" editor, beginning in May and updating over successive months, working on it on weekends and early mornings. Still, she said she enjoyed the return to her career roots.

"It was really fun to wake up early in the morning and write again," she said.

—Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano

Pencil Point

The weather outside is frightful

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Final Point

Social media and the 2020 presidential election

After years of being labeled as laissez-faire markets of misinformation, social media companies have been playing a different tune this election season.

Some sections of President Donald Trump’s Twitter account are so regularly labeled with fine print warnings from Twitter that they look like late-night ads for miracle drugs, side effects included.

Take Trump’s Monday rant that "The Radical Left Democrats, working with their partner, the Fake News Media, are trying to STEAL this Election."

"This claim about election fraud is disputed," says the appended label from Twitter.

Or even more simply, when Trump tweeted before that "I won the Election!" Twitter added the sober rejoinder: "Official sources called this election differently."

Then there is the advertisement issue. Twitter and TikTok announced in 2019 that they would ban political ads, but Facebook and Google only moved in that direction this election season. In the week leading up to election day, new ads about "social issues, elections or politics" couldn’t be created, according to a disclaimer on Facebook’s political ad archive.

The companies extended that directive last week, meaning that campaigns aren’t able to run new ads about the election or elections results.

That hasn’t stopped regular citizens from sharing misinformation on their own, but the social media giants are making some moves on that front as well, including Facebook cracking down on groups and pages involved in the "Stop the Steal" online movement, full of rhetoric that echoes Trump’s.

—Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano