Election Day, as it turns out, won't be the end of two important East End races, but just the beginning.
With the First Congressional District race separated by 3,461 votes (out of over 181,000) and the First Assembly District separated by a razor-thin 40 votes (with over 41,000 ballots cast), both races will rely on absentee ballots and recounts to determine the final winner. The winners may not be announced for weeks, at the earliest.
"I'm not surprised it's as close as it is," Bishop said on Wednesday. "I was saying all along that whoever won would come out with 51 or 52 percent of the vote. I'm very pleased I came out on top."
After a preliminary count of yesterday's ballots gave Republican challenger Dan Losquadro, R - Shoreham, a 40-vote lead in the First Assembly District, incumbent Democrat Marc Alessi, also of Shoreham, says he will wait until the end of the month to see what the final numbers say.
According to the Board of Elections, as of Wednesday, the following absentee ballots have yet to be counted:
- First Congressional District:
- Democrat: 3,563
- Republican: 3,889
- Independence: 292
- Conservative: 240
- Working Families: 12
- Blank: 1,753
- First Assembly District:
- Democrat: 823
- Republican: 1,039
- Independence: 70
- Conservative: 64
- Working Families: 6
- Blank: 458
The election board also reported that over 3,600 ballots in the Bishop/Altschuler race have yet to arrive, and 850 remain outstanding in the First Assembly District race.
In addition to waiting for a re-count of the board's electornic voting machines, Alessi stated, "we are going to wait for all of the military ballots to be mailed in from overseas, which according to law have until the end of November to arrive at the Suffolk County Board of Elections. We will have a clearer picture at the end of November the actual results of this election."
Representatives at the board of elections said all absentee ballots must be postmarked by Nov. 1. Military ballots have until Nov. 24 to arrive at the BOE office.
In the race for New York's First Congessional District, Republican challenger Randy Altschuler's camp met with an election lawyer on Wednesday morning to determine their next step.
"It's obvious this race is too close to call," said Rob Ryan, Altschuler's senior communication manager.
"The absentee ballots alone are a big chunk of votes," he said. "And when we're using these machines, there is still room for human error. While the machines themselves may be accurate, the humans who write them down don't always do that accurately."
Bishop said that while he understands Altschuler's dedication to his campaign, he hopes the process does not turn into a "long, protracted legal struggle."
Steven Losquadro, counsel for the Suffolk County Republican Committee, said a legal battle would be "speculative" as of now, though validity of voting machines and absentee ballots have been questioned in the courts before.
Alessi and Losquadro's race was back-and-forth all night, at one point around 1:30 a.m. separated by a single vote - with one election district yet to be counted. Drew Biondo, Losquadro's campaign manager, said that the final election district tallied - Riverhead's 11th District - was one they had targeted specifically, with Losquadro walking twice to make his face familiar to voters. He won Riverhead's 11th District by 39 votes.
Bishop held a lead in the Congressional race all night, though his current tally of 50.96 percent of the vote is about as close to Altschuler's side as it was all night. However the incumbent doesn't see it getting much closer, noting that in his previous re-election bids, he has won the majority of absentee ballots and the majority of the remaining absentees are coming from the North and South Fork, which Bishop considers a stronghold.
"I remember eight years ago when I stood in this exact same spot," Bishop said early Wednesday morning at the Islandia Mariott, at the Suffolk County Democratic Party headquarters. "I was probably up around 1,400 or 1,500 votes. We came away with about 2,200 I think."
When Alessi took the stage his lead was around 100 votes, with over 95 percent of election districts reporting.
"We stand here today after long arduous campaign with victories under our belt able to say this campaign is not over," Alessi said. "It has just begun."