David Quigley, 76, of Dix Hills, voted early at the...

David Quigley, 76, of Dix Hills, voted early at the Dix Hills Fire Department on Saturday. Credit: Debbie Egan-Chin

Daily Point

The LI count

Long Island continues to see a burst of early voting, particularly in Suffolk County.

Early vote totals through Day 6 are 74,732 in Nassau and 56,821 in Suffolk, according to the state Board of Elections.

That puts Nassau at 51% of the early vote turnout at this stage in 2020, a high-interest presidential year, with Suffolk at a significant 68%.

This is the cumulative early vote for the first six days of early voting, with...

This is the cumulative early vote for the first six days of early voting, with three days remaining. Credit: New York State Board of Elections

Those numbers suggest a continued level of high interest, compared with the NYC total of 246,833 early votes through Day 6, which is just 35% of the analogous 2020 turnout. Statewide, 710,467 early votes have been cast, 43% of the matching 2020 turnout, with three days of early voting left to count.

Then there are the absentee ballots. Nearly 50,000 have been requested in Suffolk as of Nov. 2, with 23,000 requests coming from Democrats and 14,000 from Republicans. In Nassau, just over 50,000 absentee ballots have been requested. Democrats requested 25,000 of them, and Republicans requested 15,000 — leads for Democrats in both cases, but less than the party enjoyed in absentees heading into the 2020 election. In both counties, however, Democrats have already returned almost as many absentee ballots as Republicans have requested in total.

— Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano

Talking Point

Smallest field since 1946 in governor’s race

For 18 consecutive gubernatorial elections, New Yorkers had at least three names to choose from. In 2010, a bumper year for outsiders, they had seven, along with one candidate’s repeated admonition, lest they did not realize, that “The rent is too damn high.”

But this time around voters have only Democrat Kathy Hochul and Republican Lee Zeldin to choose from at the top of their ballots, and each has only two party lines. Hochul doubles up with the Working Families Party nod, while Zeldin is the Conservative Party option.

The shift is thanks to changes in election law that went into effect with the results of the 2020 election and made it far harder to get third parties qualified for ballot access. For decades, the requirement for a party to get an easily accessed, nearly automatic line on the ballot for any race was 50,000 votes in the gubernatorial election held every four years. Now it is 130,000 every two years, in presidential as well as gubernatorial contests.

The results? Two traditional, ideologically based and respected minor parties that do not generally allow Democratic or Republican candidates to appear on their lines, the Libertarians and the Greens, don’t appear on the ballot. Green gubernatorial candidate Howie Hawkins and his libertarian counterpart, Larry Sharpe, sued claiming the bar was too high, but to no avail.

Zeldin tried to use the Independence Party moniker to clear the barrier for parties without automatic access, now increased from 15,000 to 45,000 petition signatures, and grab an extra line, but failed when it turned out his signature pile was littered with photocopied pages appearing multiple times.

And it means the kind of novelty or single-issue parties that used to pop up regularly, like the Freedom Party, the Anti-Prohibition Party, and The Rent is too Damn High Party of 2010 are nowhere to be found now.

Will it matter next week?

The 2018 gubernatorial election saw minor parties boasting their own candidates do unusually well. Hawkins, a perennial part-time politico, notched 103,946 votes, or 1.7% of the total. Without his presence, Green voters may opt for Hochul, or skip the race. Sharpe got 95,033 ayes for the Libertarians in 2018, 1.56%, and though those voters are not as reliably conservative as Greens are liberal, their most likely moves are voting for Zeldin, or skipping as well.

If this gubernatorial race ends up close, the absence of those parties on the ballot could matter very much.

— Lane Filler @lanefiller

Pencil Point

Trojan tweet

Credit: The Buffalo News/Adam Zyglis

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Final Point

All in the family

Republican congressional candidate Nick LaLota's flyer, with his wife Kaylie's...

Republican congressional candidate Nick LaLota's flyer, with his wife Kaylie's statement on the back.

Political mailers designed to introduce a candidate to voters have a common denominator: a soft-focused holiday greeting card photo of the family, sometimes even the pets get into the shot, along with a wholesome message about love of town and country. But in one of Long Island’s House races, such a flyer might count for more than generic filler.

A recent mailer from Republican Nick LaLota, who is running for Congress in CD1, is typical — smiling wife and three daughters — until you turn it over. On the flip side is a photo of Kaylie LaLota, with a personal message about her husband’s stance on abortion. It’s an issue opponent Democrat Bridget Fleming is making the centerpiece of her campaign.

Kaylie LaLota writes that “Nick doesn’t support a ban on abortion, doesn’t oppose first trimester abortions, and doesn’t oppose abortion to the protect the life of a mother, or in cases of rape or incest.” Instead, she says, her husband "will focus on the issues which matter to our family and yours” and those include the cost of gas and groceries and the restoration of the deduction of state and local taxes. 

The LaLota family lives in Amityville, which is part of CD2, and the candidate himself, a former Amityville Village trustee, didn’t have much of a high profile in the newly designed CD1, which now includes the most northwestern parts of Suffolk County. Kaylie LaLota, a popular dance teacher and kickline coach for more than two decades at Northport High School, is the one with the name recognition.

— Rita Ciolli @ritaciolli