Gotham Gazette https://www.gothamgazette.com/component/tags/tag/3014 Wed, 20 Jan 2021 17:48:17 +0000 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb webmaster@gothamgazette.com (Webmaster) New York City Sees First-Ever Balance Among Early, Absentee & Election Day Voting https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/9997-new-york-city-2020-balance-early-absentee-election-day-voting-turnout https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/9997-new-york-city-2020-balance-early-absentee-election-day-voting-turnout 4 polling sites

Voting in NYC in a pandemic (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)


The first presidential election in New York City to have both early and universal mail-in voting showed a significant portion of the electorate taking advantage of each of the new voting methods.

Across the city, roughly 42% of those who voted cast ballots in-person on Election Day, while 37% voted at an early voting site, and 22% mailed in ballots, according to the New York City Campaign Finance Board. At over 3 million votes citywide, turnout rose by close to 300,000 votes from 2016 figures, although the turnout rate among registered voters was roughly the same (55% in 2020 vs. 56% in 2016), as more people joined the rolls in the intervening four years. Reformers who have been pushing these measures for years, and in some cases decades, say the broad spread vindicates their efforts.

Advocates have sought to make voting simpler and more accessible for years by expanding the number of options to cast a ballot, along with other reforms to streamline voter registration and shore up voter protections. High on the agenda was early voting, which passed the state Legislature and was signed into law in 2019, and universal or "no-excuse" absentee voting, which has not been fully codified but was enacted temporarily by executive order and subsequent legislation during the coronavirus pandemic.

"When we passed landmark voting reforms, including Early Voting, we had no idea how critical they would be to helping more New Yorkers vote during a pandemic," wrote State Senator Zellnor Myrie, a Brooklyn Democrat and chair of the Senate's election committee, in an email to Gotham Gazette. For years, election reforms had been blocked by a coalition of Senate Republicans and breakaway Democrats known as the Independent Democratic Conference, one of whom Myrie defeated in 2018 as mainline Democrats took control of the chamber and thus all of state government.

"We expanded access for voters because it was the right thing to do. Of course, this year has been unprecedented and it wound up being even more important for people to have multiple ways, on multiple days, to cast their votes safely and ensure they would be counted," Myrie wrote.

In the general election, over 3 million people voted in New York City, a significant uptick from four years ago, driven at least in part by the atmosphere of heightened political engagement during the Trump years. Only about three-quarters of that turnout was in-person -- either on Election Day or during the nine-day early voting period that preceded it -- the rest were mail-ins.

New York has never before had universal absentee voting, making comparisons to previous years difficult. In the spring of 2020, Governor Andrew Cuomo made it an option for all New Yorkers by making the risk of spreading COVID-19 an acceptable reason for requiring an absentee ballot. The executive order led that number to explode, from roughly 335,000 absentee ballots processed in the 2016 and 2018 general elections, combined, to over 660,000 in the 2020 general election. (The figures do not include the number of absentee ballots that were rejected, which happens to roughly a fifth every election cycle, usually on technical grounds. Some of the rules that led to frequent disqualification were changed by lawmakers in Albany between the primary and general elections this year.)

In 2019, the first year early voting was in effect, roughly 60,000 New Yorkers took advantage of the option in the general election, which saw low turnout typical of a so-called off-years with no high-profile races. In the 2020 primaries in June, there was a massive increase in absentee voting amid some of the worst days of the covid outbreak and few people cast early in-person ballots. That changed drastically in the general election, when the virus was under some control, and after voting advocates and elected leaders, like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, put significant effort into encouraging voters who were able to vote early.

Some boroughs had a more even spread among the three voting methods than others.

In Manhattan, the distribution across Election-Day voting, early voting, and absentee voting was virtually even, with roughly a third of voters casting ballots through each option. The rest of the boroughs saw far smaller participation by mail, with the Bronx and Staten Island showing the least affinity for voting by post.

Staten Island had the greatest enthusiasm for early voting with 48% of those who voted in the borough casting ballots that way. The lowest early voting participation rate was in Queens, where only 32% of those who voted did so early in person.

The Bronx, followed by Queens, had the highest participation rates for voting on Election Day, with 49% and 47% of those who voted, respectively, casting ballots in person on the last day before polls closed.

"We've witnessed that flexible voting options better protect our rights and our health, eliminating the need to choose among them, particularly during an emergency. Both 9/11 and Superstorm Sandy caused election disruptions in New York that should never be repeated," said Jarret Berg, co-founder of the nonprofit Vote Early New York. Berg warned the latest figures should be viewed with caution because it is impossible to gauge the impact of factors like the pandemic, "the triumph of 'work from home' technology and culture," and reaction to the Trump administration.

"While the capacity and design of both programs should be further optimized to meet local community needs, the inaugural rollout of early voting and mainstream vote from home was an unquestionable success," Berg told Gotham Gazette. "As the resourcing and infrastructure for these new programs improve and the public becomes accustomed to them, I anticipate the proportion of voters who are comfortable using them will continue to grow."

“More choices means more people voting," wrote State Senator Michael Gianaris, the deputy majority leader from Queens and a long-time advocate for election reform, in an email.

"This year we saw voters in record numbers avail themselves of the multitude of options given to them, which affirms Senate Democrats historic electoral reforms," he wrote. Gianaris is now setting his sights on one of the next election reform battles -- automatic voter registration. A bill that would require certain state agencies to register eligible voters when they provide the necessary personal information passed in July but has yet to be signed by Cuomo.

***
by Ethan Geringer-Sameth, reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

]]>
New York City Sees First-Ever Balance Among Early, Absentee & Election Day Voting Tue, 15 Dec 2020 05:00:00 +0000
Breaking Down Final 2020 Vote Tallies Across New York City https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/9961-breaking-down-2020-vote-new-york-city-biden-trump https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/9961-breaking-down-2020-vote-new-york-city-biden-trump drive in rally

Joe Biden (photo: Adam Schultz/Biden for President)


New York City's long-awaited election results were finally certified Tuesday, four weeks after polls closed and just past the state's statutory deadline, making the five boroughs one of the last jurisdictions in the country to finalize the 2020 count.

The results show that, in a year with significantly more ballots cast and massive changes in party alignments, the Democratic Party made barely any gains in presidential turnout, while the smaller, more progressive Working Families Party made huge strides as it successfully fought to keep its ballot line in New York. Republican President Donald Trump, while deeply unpopular overall in his home city, actually increased his vote share from 2016, particularly from parts of the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens.

Overall in New York City, Biden received 2,321,759 votes, 76%, to Trump’s 691,682 votes, or 23%; a margin of 1,630,077. In 2016, Hillary Clinton 79% won of the vote to Trump’s 18%.

Biden won the state of New York by a 60%-38% margin; compared to Clinton’s 58.8%-37.5% win in 2016, meaning that while Biden did worse than Clinton in the five boroughs he outperformed her outside the city.

While a Biden-Harris sweep was a foregone conclusion in the heavily ‘blue’ city, where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans eight to one, the final results sealed a number of consequential victories up and down the ballot, including in a few close races. There will be many new members of the State Legislature and House of Representatives, most of whom sailed in the general election after tough primary wins.

Some turnout trends reflect an electorate responding to the unique circumstances -- political and epidemiological, local and national -- surrounding the controversial 2020 election. And while the number of voters who cast ballots was way up from 2016 and several prior presidential elections, the turnout rate -- the percentage of registered voters who cast ballots -- did not move significantly.

Amid the coronavirus outbreak and major changes to traditional voting, including a universal absentee balloting option, turnout in New York City was the highest it has been in decades. A total of roughly 3.07 million ballots cast, over 300,000 more than in 2016, the greatest increase of any election cycle in the last 20 years and edging out the huge turnout leap between 2012 and 2016.

This year, 55% of registered voters cast ballots in New York City, one point lower than in 2016.

The final tallies reveal that despite the significant jump in voter participation, votes cast in New York City for president on the Democratic Party ballot line barely moved from four years ago: Joe Biden and Kamala Harris netted just 4,730 more votes than Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine in 2016, a .2% change.

The numbers indicate that the voter movement was split between additional votes for Trump-Pence and Biden-Harris on the Working Families Party (WFP) ballot line, which both saw increases of more than 100,000 votes in New York City.

Dozens of Democratic candidates, officials, and activists encouraged voters to choose Biden-Harris on the WFP line as the party, like others in the state, had to meet new statewide thresholds in order to keep its automatic ballot position. It was one of just two smaller parties, along with the Conservative Party, where Trump was the nominee, that survived.

The WFP handily broke the new and controversial vote threshold, mostly from city voters, as did the Conservative Party, mostly from upstate and Long Island. Both will retain their ballot lines over the next two years. The Green, Libertarian, Independence, and SAM parties -- some of which have been mainstays on the ballot for decades -- did not fare as well and will have to achieve new petition thresholds to put candidates on the ballot.

New York City also saw some historic down-ballot wins, including the election of City Council Member Ritchie Torres, a Bronx Democrat, to Congress. Torres, who is Afro-Latino, and Mondaire Jones, another Democrat, who prevailed in Westchester County, will be the first Black openly gay members of Congress.

Democratic City Council Member Donovan Richards won the Queens borough presidency against an active Republican challenger, after securing the Democratic nomination in June, and was quickly sworn into office Wednesday given that Sharon Lee had been holding the post temporarily since Melinda Katz stepped down after being elected Queens District Attorney. Richards is the first Black man to become Queens Borough President.

Several members of the New York City Democratic Socialists of America chapter won their general elections for the State Legislature after prevailing in competitive primaries in Brooklyn and Queens, and will head to Albany to try to pull the Legislature further left. After unseating longtime Rep. Eliot Engel in the primary earlier this year, DSA-backed Jamaal Bowman finalized his ticket to Congress representing the Bronx and Westchester. And DSA standard-bearer Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez won a second term after facing well-funded primary and general election challengers in her Bronx and Queens district.

With all counties in New York State having finalized results as of Wednesday, the State Board of Canvassers is scheduled to meet Thursday to certify the statewide results, according to a spokesperson for the state BOE. The close race between Democratic Rep. Anthony Brindisi and his Republican challenger, Claudia Tenney, in Congressional District 22 in central New York will not be part of the certification due to ongoing litigation. New York State was the 42nd state to certify the election.

The deadline for state to select electors to the Electoral College is December 14, and the electors, including Governor Andrew Cuomo and many other prominent current and former officials, are currently scheduled to meet in Albany that day.

More on the Presidential Vote
President-elect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, the first female vice president-elect and the first of African or Indian descent, garnered 2.3 million votes, or about 76% of the total votes for president and vice president cast in New York City in 2020.

In New York City, the number of votes on the Democratic line were about the same as in 2016, but the number of Working Families Party votes for the cross-endorsed ticket increased 250% to 226,000. Statewide, 4.8 million people voted for Biden on the Democratic line and 386,000 on the WFP line.

President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence received close to 692,000 votes, or 23% of the total, in New York City this year, an increase of nearly 200,000 votes over their performance in 2016. The leap in Trump votes was almost entirely on the Republican line, while he received a roughly 10,000-vote boost on the Conservative Party line compared to 2016, a 25% increase. Statewide, Trump received 2.9 million votes on the Republican line and 296,000 on the Conservative line.

The totals placed the WFP and Conservative Party above the 130,000 voter or 2% (whichever is higher) cutoff set by Governor Andrew Cuomo and the state Legislature earlier this year. That cutoff was ultimately roughly 173,000 votes, which was 2% of the total 8.6 million votes for president cast across the state.

The new thresholds were first set by a commission, which was selected by Cuomo and the two legislative majority leaders and included state Democratic Party Chair Jay Jacobs, a close Cuomo ally, but were thrown out in court, and then enacted by the governor and Legislature earlier this year. They have been criticized as an attempt to kneecap minor parties, especially the WFP, which has been a thorn in Cuomo’s side, including by supporting Cynthia Nixon’s Democratic primary challenge to him in 2018, before Cuomo then appeared on the WFP ballot line for the general election for the third time.

Jacobs and others acknowledged that the effort was indeed meant to make “real” political parties prove themselves, given the old threshold was 50,000 votes in each gubernatorial election.

Other minor parties like the Greens and Libertarians, which historically have not cross-endorsed major-party tickets, did not break 12,000 votes this year, which was an especially bad year for minor party presidential candidates after 2016 was a particularly strong year for them across the country. The Green Party in particular was decimated this year, having lost about 25,000 votes from its presidential tally in New York City, roughly two-thirds of its 2016 showing in the city.

Turnout for the Libertarian Party in the city was relatively unchanged but the total number of votes the Libertarian presidential nominee, Jo Jorgensen, received on any party line was roughly halved from 2016; that year, Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson won more than two-thirds of his New York City vote on the Independence Party line. The Independence Party, which unlike 2016 did not cross-endorse the Libertarian ticket in the general election, barely cracked 2,500 votes for Brock Pierce, a dramatic if relatively short fall from the 19,000 votes the party received citywide four years ago.

Despite the fact that since 2016 Democrats added 405,000 new registered voters to the party rolls in the five boroughs, the party only added the 4,730 votes to its 2016 city total won by Clinton. Many Democratic voters appeared to have voted for Biden on the WFP line. As of November 1, there were only 15,750 voters in New York City actually registered with the WFP, down about 1,000 over four years.

Meanwhile, Republican voter enrollment in the city increased by about 61,000 over the last four years, but Trump saw his vote total jump by about 100,000 overall, including by 187,000 on the GOP line alone.

Kanye West, the rapper, producer, and occasional ally of Donald Trump, received 927 write-in votes for president citywide, the most of any unaffiliated candidate.

At the borough level, Biden won in all but Staten Island, where turnout increased by about 36,000 votes, or roughly 20%. But on Staten Island, Trump received about 15,000 fewer votes than in 2016, indicating Biden’s relative popularity on the island compared to Clinton and Trump’s improved performance over 2016 in some parts of the other boroughs. The margin was still wide, though, with Trump winning 61.6% of the Staten Island vote to Biden’s 37.6%.

Biden won Manhattan by 84.5%-14.5%; the Bronx 82.5%-17%; Brooklyn 74%-25%; and Queens 69%-30%. While Biden improved on Clinton’s margin on Staten Island, Trump improved on his own margin from 2016 in all the other boroughs, particularly in the Bronx, where he had won only 9.6% in 2016; Brooklyn, where he won 17.9% in 2016, and Queens, where he won 22.1% in 2016.

Trump did especially well in areas of Brooklyn with large Orthodox Jewish populations and in other parts of Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx with higher concentrations of white voters. He also appears to have picked up votes in some Hispanic-heavy areas of the city, mirroring a trend seen elsewhere in the country.

Down-Ballot Races
In Congressional District 11, which covers Staten Island and parts of southern Brooklyn, Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis beat incumbent Rep. Max Rose to flip the city's only Congressional swing district back to Republicans, who typically have held the seat. The final count was 155,586 votes for Malliotakis and 137,165 for Rose, or 53.15% to 46.85%. Rose ran ahead of Biden in the district and on Staten Island alone, likely indicating some share of Trump-Rose voters who split their ticket.

In the state Legislature, Democratic State Senator Andrew Gounardes, a Democrat representing a swing district in southern Brooklyn, won reelection in a relatively close race with Republican Vito Bruno by fewer than 4,000 votes. Gounardes received 51.8% of the total with just over 51,000 votes, but did increase his margin from his narrow 2018 victory over then-incumbent Senator Martin Golden.

Overall turnout in Brooklyn increased by close to 110,000 votes, or roughly 14%.

In the election for Queens Borough President, Council Member Richards, the Democratic nominee, defeated Republican Joann Ariola with 69.8% of the vote -- 519,000 to 206,000.

The boroughwide turnout increased by 103,000 in Queens or up about 15% from 2016.

In the Bronx, where turnout increased by about 30,000 votes (7%) from 2016 to 2020, Council Member Ritchie Torres, who won a crowded race for the Democratic nomination in June, beat Republican nominee Patrick Delices with 88.7% of the vote. The totals in that race were 170,000 for Torres and 21,000 for Delices.

In Manhattan, where there were no close races, turnout increased by 28,000 votes, only 4%, since 2016.

***
by Ethan Geringer-Sameth, reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

Ben Max contributed to this article.

Note: this article has been updated to correct the vote totals in NY-11.

]]>
Breaking Down Final 2020 Vote Tallies Across New York City Thu, 03 Dec 2020 05:00:00 +0000
Voter Turnout in New York City Jumped 7.5% from 2016 to 2020 https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/9907-voter-turnout-new-york-city-increased-7-5-percent-2016-to-2020 https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/9907-voter-turnout-new-york-city-increased-7-5-percent-2016-to-2020 2 numbersvillage

Voters in 2020 (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)


Despite concerns about how the coronavirus pandemic may affect voter turnout, more than 2.97 million New York City voters cast a ballot in the 2020 general election, an increase of about 7.5% or 210,000 more votes than were cast in the city in the last presidential election, in 2016.

By election night, more than 2.25 million New York City residents had voted in person, 1.1 million of whom cast a ballot in the nine days of early voting before Election Day. As expected, absentee voting swelled, with more than 720,000 absentee ballots returned to the New York CIty Board of Elections by the November 10 deadline. Counting those ballots just began and is expected to take weeks. 

With 5.56 million registered voters in the city as of November 1, the turnout rate was roughly 53.4%. The rate was slightly lower than the 56.3% in 2016; there were fewer registered voters in the city that year – 2.76 million out of 4.9 million registered voters cast a ballot. There are roughly 13.56 million registered voters statewide in New York. 

President-elect Joe Biden easily won New York State and, as expected, is winning New York City by an even larger margin. The city is home to 3.74 million registered Democrats, roughly 568,000 Republicans, and more than 1 million party-unaffiliated voters, as well as many thousands of voters registered with smaller political parties. But President Donald Trump received more votes in the city this year than four years ago – even without absentee ballots, he had garnered 586,900 votes compared to a total of 494,549 in 2016. 

An analysis by Steven Romalewski, director of the mapping service at the Center for Urban Research, CUNY Graduate Center, shows that from 2016 to 2020 turnout in the city increased the most on Staten Island, large portions of Queens, and parts of Brooklyn. In Manhattan, turnout only increased slightly while in large parts of the Bronx, fewer voters cast ballots this year than four years ago. It’s unclear what role the coronavirus pandemic had in boosting or suppressing voter turnout.

“I think it reflects the intensity of the race and the heightened attention to this particular election. So, as far as civic engagement in New York City, that's a good thing,” Romalewski said in a phone interview. 

Recognizing the challenges posed by the pandemic, state lawmakers and Governor Andrew Cuomo took several steps to make voting easier in the election. These came on top of the fact that early voting had been passed at the state level last year and was being implemented in a presidential election for the first time.

The governor signed several bills into law on August 20 that immediately allowed all voters to request an absentee ballot by citing the risk of contracting COVID-19 as an excuse; allowing voters to postmark their ballots as late as Election Day; and mandating that absentee ballots received the day after the election without a postmark are counted.

New York State still does not allow no-excuse absentee ballots, which requires an amendment of the state constitution. The state Legislature has already voted to pass that amendment once and must do so again before presenting it to voters for their approval as a ballot question, which is also true for same-day voter registration which would allow new voters to register and vote on the same day.

“Anything that helps increase turnout, makes it easier for people to vote is good,” Romalewski said. “It doesn't seem to make sense to have artificial restrictions on when you can submit an absentee ballot, whether you can vote by mail or not. And I think the early voting definitely helped in terms of making it easier for people to vote in a less crowded indoor environment.” 

Among the neighborhoods that saw the highest increase in votes – between 5,001 to 10,995 more votes – were the Upper East Side and the Upper West Side in Manhattan; Greenpoint, South Williamsburg, Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, Gowanus, Windsor Terrace, Kensington, Borough Park, Midwood, Sheepshead Bay and Brighton Beach in Brooklyn; and large swathes of western, central and northeastern Queens including Sunnyside, Ridgewood, Long Island City, Queensbridge, Ravenswood, Astoria, Woodside, Maspeth, Ditmars Steinway, Forest Hills, Rego Park, Jamaica Hills, Jamaica Estates, Forest Hills, Middle Village, Kew Gardens, Fresh Meadows, Bay Terrace, Auburndale, Clearview, Douglaston and Little Neck.  

Notably, according to Romalewski’s analysis, two Assembly districts – District 80 in the Bronx and District 56 in Brooklyn – saw a marked decrease in turnout, of between 5,001 and 6,888 fewer votes. District 56 had one of the few competitive Assembly races in the city, at least in the Democratic primary, since longtime Democratic Assemblymember Tremaine Wright did not run for reelection while unsuccessfully seeking a State Senate seat. Democrat Stefani Zinerman won Wright’s seat, running uncontested in the general election. In District 80, first-term Democratic Assemblymember Nathalia Fernandez handily won reelection, defeating nominal general election opposition in the heavily Democratic district.

There were parts of the city that saw a smaller drop in turnout, up to 2,500 fewer votes. That includes Brooklyn’s Assembly District 60, which covers New Lots, East New York and Starrett City and is represented by Assemblymember Charles Barron, who was reelected unopposed; and Manhattan’s Assembly District 71, which is represented by Assemblymember Al Taylor and includes Hudson Heights, Sugar Hill and Hamilton Heights. Taylor was also reelected and did not have an opponent in the general election.

Large swathes of the Bronx saw a similar decrease in voting including Fordham Heights, Fordham Manor, West Bronx, Mt. Hope, Crotona, Belmont, Claremont Village, Morrisania, Concourse Village, Charlotte Gardens, Highbridge, Mt. Eden,  Soundview, Clason Point, Longwood, and Hunts Point.

While the presidential election has shown additional encouraging signs of participation in a city that has long been known for voter apathy, but has seen marked increases in 2018 and now 2020, the turnout percentages are still relatively low, and a real test is coming in the municipal elections next year. The future of the city will be on the ballot via June primaries and the fall general election as the city holds elections for mayor, comptroller, public advocate, five borough presidents, and all 51 members of the City Council. Most of those offices, including mayor, will see a new person elected given most of city government is leaving their current offices due to term limits.

The last situation like this, in the presidential election of 2012 and the city elections of 2013, when most of city government including the mayor was turning over, general election turnout in the city went from 53% in 2012 to 23.9% in 2013. But, given the city’s overwhelming Democratic enrollment imbalance, what often matters most is voter involvement in the party primaries -- in 2013, that stood at 22% of registered Democrats, about 40% of whom advanced Bill de Blasio to the general election and mayoralty. In 2016 and 2017, with the Hillary Clinton-Donald Trump presidential election followed by de Blasio cruising to reelection, the dropoff was even more severe. 

“If there is a fall off again in turnout...it's really unfortunate,” Romalewski said, “because in some ways, the person we elect as mayor and the people we elect as City Council representatives have a more direct impact on our everyday lives than people at the federal level. So you would hope that there would be even higher turnout for municipal elections, but that hasn't been the case.”

***
by Samar Khurshid, senior reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

]]>
Voter Turnout in New York City Jumped 7.5% from 2016 to 2020 Mon, 16 Nov 2020 05:00:00 +0000
Brooklyn, Staten Island Democrats Look to Absentee Ballots to Help Them Hold Their Seats https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/9891-2020-brooklyn-races-absentee-ballots-democrats-hope-victory https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/9891-2020-brooklyn-races-absentee-ballots-democrats-hope-victory 3 runaway

Several local races hing on absentee ballots (photo: @JustinBrannan)


As New York election officials begin counting absentee ballots from the general election, there are dozens of races that have yet to be decided. Based on the in-person tallies, Democrats in several state and congressional races are currently running behind Republicans and are hoping that absentees will deliver them victories. But in three races in overlapping districts in Southern Brooklyn and Staten Island, areas home to more Republican voters than most other parts of the heavily Democratic city, absentees may not be enough to overcome leads buoyed by immense turnout for the GOP candidates for Congress, State Senate, and Assembly.

In New York’s 11th Congressional District, 22nd State Senate District, and 46th Assembly District, Republicans stand a chance of reclaiming Democrat-held seats after turnout swelled this year, likely in large part because President Donald Trump was on top of the ticket. Each district is home to large pockets of Republican-leaning voters, anomalies in a city where Democrats outnumber Republicans eight to one and Joe Biden received three-quarters of the in-person vote. Trump’s job performance, New York State coronavirus restrictions, criminal justice reform and public safety, and how far left New York City progressives want to take city government were all key themes in the three races.

In the 11th Congressional District, which covers the entirety of Staten Island and parts of Southern Brooklyn, first-term Democratic U.S. Rep. Max Rose trails Republican Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis by a margin of 37,158 votes going into the absentee counting, which begins Tuesday for some districts. Though Malliotakis declared victory on election night due to her more than 15-point margin based on the in-person vote, Rose has refused to concede the race. According to New York City Board of Election data, he received 99,224 votes (42.04%) to Malliotakis’ 136,382 (57.79%).

Rose is all but assured to lose his seat, which has mostly been in Republican hands for many years. With more mailed votes still being accepted for several days to come, the latest Board of Elections numbers show there were 48,259 absentee ballots returned in the district as of Election Day – 27,598 came from Democrats, 9,213 from Republicans, and 9,508 from party-unaffiliated voters. As absentee ballots continued to come in, the Democratic share was expected to remain high, favoring Rose.

Rose also appeared on the Independence Party ballot line and 1,212 voters from the party cast absentee ballots. Malliotakis appeared on the Conservative Party line, whose voters cast 401 absentees. If Rose won all those Democrat, Independence, and unaffiliated voters, which is very unlikely, it would give him 38,318 votes, for a total just past what Malliotakis got in the in-person vote. Meanwhile, Malliotakis will easily pick up the bulk of the 9,900 Republican and Conservative absentee voter votes, not to mention some percentage of the unaffiliated voters. (Some voters will likely leave the race blank, a not-uncommon practice down ballot during presidential elections.)

Of the 48,259 absentee ballots returned as of the Election Day tally, Rose would need to win at least 88.5% of them to surpass Malliotakis, though more valid absentee votes surely came in since Election Day.

State Senate district 22 in Southern Brooklyn falls within the 11th Congressional District. It covers the neighborhoods of Bay Ridge, Bensonhurst, Fort Hamilton, Dyker Heights, Marine Park, Gerritsen Beach, and Manhattan Beach. Democratic State Senator Andrew Gounardes, also a first-term incumbent, is 6,035 votes behind Republican challenger Vito Bruno. Gounardes received 34,586 votes (45.94%) via in-person voting, while Bruno tallied 40,621 votes (53.95%).

Gounardes doesn’t face an insurmountable lead. Through Election Day, 18,524 absentee ballots were returned in the district; 11,622 were from Democrats, 2,651 from Republicans, and 3,714 from party-unaffiliated voters, according to the Board of Elections. Bruno also appeared on the Conservative and Independence Party lines, whose voters returned 101 and 345 absentee ballots respectively.

Taking the 6,035-vote margin and the 18,524 absentee votes into account, even though the latter figure has certainly grown, Gounardes would need to win 66.3% of the absentees to surpass Bruno. That percentage is not far off the percentage of absentee ballots tallied by election night that were from Democratic voters alone.

Assemblymember Mathylde Frontus from Brooklyn’s District 46 also represents some of the same neighborhoods as Gounardes and Rose. She received 15,030 votes (45.66%) via in-person voting. Her little-known opponent, Mark Szuszkiewicz, received 17,852 votes (54.23%), giving him a 2,822 vote lead heading into the absentee count.

Frontus could overcome that lead with absentee ballots largely in favor of Democrats. Of the 7,081 absentee ballots returned in the district, 4,525 were Democratic voters, 1,035 were Republicans, and 1,273 were unaffiliated voters.

To make up the 2,822-vote deficit via the 7,081 absentee ballots that came in by Election Day (a number that has surely grown), Frontus would need to win 70% of those votes. That percentage is slightly higher than the 64% of the 7,081 absentee ballots that came in from Democratic voters alone.

***
by Samar Khurshid, senior reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

]]>
Brooklyn, Staten Island Democrats Look to Absentee Ballots to Help Them Hold Their Seats Mon, 09 Nov 2020 05:00:00 +0000
After Significant Help for State Senate Democrats in 2018, Cuomo Largely Absent from 2020 Races https://www.gothamgazette.com/state/9884-cuomo-help-state-senate-democrats-2018-absent-2020-races https://www.gothamgazette.com/state/9884-cuomo-help-state-senate-democrats-2018-absent-2020-races Cuomo state senate Democrats Gounardes

Gov. Cuomo with now-State Senator Andrew Gounardes in Oct. 2018 (photo: Cuomo/Flickr)


After flipping several State Senate seats in 2018 and taking control of the upper legislative chamber and therefore all of state government, Democrats sought to hold onto their wide majority this year even with a Republican president atop the ticket. They believed they might be able to win a supermajority in the chamber to match that of Democrats in the Assembly by picking up at least two additional Senate seats, if not more.

But as Senate Democrats faced tough races in a number of districts, including some they had won by narrow margins amid a “blue wave” two years ago, New York’s top Democrat seemed to take a relatively hands off approach and did what some believe is the bare minimum to help his party-mates defend or win new seats.

Though in 2018, when he was on top of the ticket seeking a third term, Governor Andrew Cuomo was active helping Democrats flip State Senate seats in swing districts from Brooklyn to Long Island to the Hudson Valley, this year he was absent but for a handful of virtual fundraising events and robocalls. Some Democrats believe he mostly prefers the split Legislature he had for his first two terms and very much wanted to avoid the possibility of veto-proof majorities in the two legislative houses.

As the vote-counting moves to absentee ballots, which are expected to significantly favor Democrats, there is a long list of State Senate races that haven’t been called. Overall, Democrats are confident that while they may lose a few seats back to Republicans they are also on the verge of picking up others and will wind up with a majority close but not quite as large as what they had coming into the election: 40 seats in the 63-seat chamber. Republicans believe they are narrowing the margin to 36-27, perhaps slimmer.

To get to that 40-seat majority, the 2018 elections saw several progressive Democrats eject more moderate members of the party in primaries while relatively moderate Democrats flipped Republican seats in the general. Cuomo was a significant presence in the latter, rallying with Democratic nominees in parts of the state where he remains popular but Republicans have had success and that he would need in his own reelection bid, which he went on to win by a wide margin.

The 2018 State Senate results set the stage, along with Cuomo’s win and continued Democratic dominance in the Assembly, for the passage of a long list of progressive priorities in 2019.

This year, despite Democrats’ hope that they could pick up as many as ten Senate seats, defend seven, and be competitive in a few others, it was bound to be a tough election. With President Donald Trump on the ballot, Republican turnout was undoubtedly going to be far higher than in 2018 even if Democrats voted in higher numbers too. And despite a fundraising and expenditure advantage for the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, there were millions being spent against them in targeted independent expenditures by outside entities, including billionaire Ron Lauder and law enforcement unions, who opposed criminal justice reforms enacted by the Democrat-led Legislature and governor. Lauder, a prominent donor to Cuomo, alone spent nearly $5 million while police unions spent more than $1 million in trying to inaccurately paint Democrats as anti-police and pro-crime.

To some observers, the governor made minimal effort to help Democrats on the receiving end of that spending and even less so in challenging Republican messaging statewide about a Democrat-controlled Legislature run amok. Many have even speculated that Lauder’s independent expenditures had the governor’s tacit approval. “That’s bullshit,” said Rich Azzopardi, a Cuomo spokesperson, in an email, when presented with those arguments.

Azzopardi insisted that the governor did his best to help Democrats’ chances. The governor endorsed a slate of candidates including Senators John Brooks, Todd Kaminsky, Monica Martinez, Anna Kaplan, Jim Gaughran, Kevin Thomas, and Pete Harckham, and nominees Sean Ryan and Laura Ahern. He recorded robocalls and made appearances at virtual fundraisers for Kaplan, Martinez, Gaughran, Thomas, and Harckham, and made additional virtual fundraising appearances for Senator Kaminsky and nominees Karen Smythe, Samra Brouk, and Jacqualine Berger, and signed a fundraising letter for nominee Jeremy Cooney.

“In what world, during a pandemic when you can't barnstorm and do rallies – if you look at that list of endorsements, robocalls and fundraisers – can they say he didn't do enough,” Azzopardi said in a subsequent phone interview. “It’s ridiculous.”

“The governor worked really hard to bring this majority in under his ticket in 2018,” Azzopardi added. “And we worked really hard to maintain it. Let all the votes be counted and let's see where it goes...We did a lot together. We did a lot of good for the state of New York. And we look forward to working with the Senate Democratic majority next year.”

While no one expected Cuomo to travel the state holding large rallies amid the coronavirus pandemic, the governor did no in-person campaign events. At the same time, Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, Cuomo's running-mate and “partner in government,” did barnstorm the state, holding campaign appearances with several Democratic candidates in tough races -- including Brooklyn’s Andrew Gounardes, whom Cuomo campaigned with in 2018 as he flipped a Senate seat but is noticeably absent from the governor’s 2020 list. Cuomo made at least three appearances with Gounardes in October and November 2018, but none, whether virtual or in-person, in 2020. Hochul campaigned with Gounardes in Brooklyn the day before Election Day this year.

Overall, Cuomo opted against joining Democratic candidates in person to bring local and media attention to their campaigns and boost their messages.

A source in the State Democratic Party said the governor was “somewhat helpful” with his fundraisers and endorsements. “But it's a little bit like it's almost just for show,” the source said, noting that the State Democratic Party, which is controlled by Cuomo, could have done more.

“The state party could have done mailers, done TV...there could have been more money spent, more sort-of consolidated or coordinated messaging,” the source said, pointing out that while the state party gave massive contributions to specific candidates, they paled in comparison to the Lauder spending. “The money thing is the big thing. You have states around the country where the state party literally will drop millions of dollars into these local races,” said the source, who insisted on anonymity in order to speak freely.

While Cuomo had transferred campaign funds to some Democrats in 2018, he did not do so this cycle even though, as of July, he had more than $13 million in campaign cash. The State Democratic Party did transfer funds to candidates in the closing weeks of the election – $50,000 each to Thomas and Gaughran and $25,000 to Monica Martinez. None of those numbers account for the money Cuomo helped some candidates raise via his appearances at the virtual fundraisers.

Tom Staudter, a spokesperson for Harckham’s campaign, said the governor’s assistance was definitely helpful. “Governor Cuomo was a big help to Senator Harckham’s campaign,” he said. “In our district, there were only positives. His leadership during the pandemic was recognized as safeguarding and benefiting our residents and I know Senator Harckham is looking forward to partnering with the governor in the future.” Though Harckham trails by about 7,000 votes after in-person vote tallies, there are still 40,000 absentee ballots to count in the district, and Staudter expects that a major portion of those will be from Democrats.

In an interview on the Max & Murphy podcast prior to the election, State Democratic Party Chair Jay Jacobs made a similar argument to Azzopardi. “He's doing a lot. The governor’s been on fundraising zooms. He’s given me the request to raise money through the state party and he said use his name to raise money. I've done just that,” Jacobs said. “So he's been very helpful and he's been giving guidance and strategic advice. What he can't do is hold big rallies, like Trump does around the country, which I know he'd like to do and he's done in the past. This environment just won't permit it.”

Almost exclusively standing by while Democrats got relentlessly attacked by Republicans and their outside allies would seem counterintuitive for a Democratic governor. But Cuomo has never been one to easily share power or attention with members of his own party and has, in the past, appeared content to preside over a split Legislature where he can mostly call the shots without getting pulled too far to the left. He has oftentimes rebuffed progressive policies proposed by Democrats, slowly embracing them once they become too popular to oppose or appear especially advantageous politically. Prior to Democrats flipping the Senate, he triangulated with an erstwhile rogue offshoot of moderate Democrats who called themselves the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC), which helped Republicans control the legislative chamber and was seen by many as a Cuomo-backed effort. 

A supermajority in the Senate, combined with that already in the Assembly, would allow Democrats stronger negotiating position on legislative and budget matters, and to override the governor’s veto if they pursue legislation that Cuomo rejected.

“Cuomo has always preferred working with Republicans than working with Democrats,” said Benjamin Rosenblatt, president of Tidal Wave Strategies, a political consulting firm. “We saw that when he helped gerrymander the State Senate map for Republicans. We saw that when he helped them with the IDC, with majorities over and over again. And we saw that this time when his billionaire friends bankrolled efforts to stop Democrats from getting a State Senate supermajority.”

Rosenblatt said Cuomo could have used his popularity, particularly in parts of the state such as Long Island, to help boost incumbent Democrats who are now uncertain about their victories. “That could have helped push Democrats over the line when they are facing these attacks against them, trying to connect them to [New York City Mayor] Bill de blasio, saying that they're anti-police,” he said.

Cuomo himself conceded on Thursday that the statewide Republican campaign had a strong impact, though he appeared to be speaking as a casual observer that had no role to play. “It shouldn't have been this close,” he said on WAMC radio with host Alan Chartock. “I believe the Republicans beat the Democrats on the messaging. I think they branded Democrats as anti-law and order. And that hurt Democrats. It was untrue.”

As Cuomo seemingly watched that messaging unfold across the state, including in districts where he had campaigned with Democrats in 2018, he was not moved to be more assertive in helping his party-mates beat back the focused, sustained barrage from Republicans.

Cuomo also pointed to how Republicans tied Democratic candidates to de Blasio, who has been widely unpopular in the state for years and who undertook a failed effort to flip the State Senate from Republican control in 2014 that led to an investigation by the Manhattan District Attorney over questionable fundraising tactics. No charges were filed. “They ran de Blasio’s picture all over the state. ‘They'll turn New York State into New York City, looting and crime and homelessness...That was their message and it resonated more than it should have,” said Cuomo, who has himself repeatedly painted New York City in such negative light during his press briefings over the past several months.

Asked about Cuomo’s comments at his daily news briefing on Thursday, de Blasio dismissed them. “I think whatever the Republicans did was pretty modest honestly,” he said, joking that in the future he would endorse Republicans to cause confusion.

Some political observers pointed out that many Republicans used images of Cuomo on their negative campaign literature.

Unlike Cuomo, Hochul kept a busy campaign schedule as election day neared. She appeared at events for State Senate incumbents Gounardes, Harckham, and Thomas, and candidates Berger, Brouk, Ryan, and John Mannion. Without the absentee ballot counts, only Brouk and Ryan are ahead in their races.

In 2018, on the other hand, Cuomo launched a concerted effort to help Democrats flip both the State Senate and the House of Representatives. With much fanfare, he appeared with State Senate seats on Long Island and together signed a nine-point pledge of policies they would pursue. He publicly endorsed Gounardes in similar fashion in Southern Brooklyn, with a slightly modified pledge more focused on New York City. Gounardes went on to replace Martin Golden, then the only Republican State Senator in the five boroughs outside of Staten Island, after winning by just 1,271 votes.

Gounardes is now at risk of losing his seat, running behind Republican challenger Vito Bruno by about 6,000 votes after the in-person tally, a deficit he has a shot at making up through absentee ballots that number more than 18,500.

In Southern Brooklyn, where Republicans did well against Democrats at the state and federal levels, though outcomes are still being determined through the absentee ballot count, Cuomo’s government actions ahead of the election may have hurt Democrats politically. 

“In 2018, he came out here and campaigned with everybody and was actively trying to gain more seats in the Senate,” said a Democratic source in Southern Brooklyn who requested anonymity to speak freely. “And this time around, it was the opposite. There was no presence out here at all.” What made it worse, on top of the Lauder-funded ads, the source said, was Cuomo’s botched rollout of new lockdown restrictions in response to localized coronavirus infection spikes that angered constituents in those districts. “It was a lot of incoming,” the source said of Republican attacks. “We took on a lot of water and there was very little air support.”

***
by Samar Khurshid, senior reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

]]>
After Significant Help for State Senate Democrats in 2018, Cuomo Largely Absent from 2020 Races Sun, 08 Nov 2020 05:00:00 +0000
The State of Play in the State Senate as the 2020 Election Moves to Counting Absentee Ballots https://www.gothamgazette.com/state/9882-state-of-play-new-york-state-senate-2020-election-count-absentee-ballots https://www.gothamgazette.com/state/9882-state-of-play-new-york-state-senate-2020-election-count-absentee-ballots New York State Senate chambers almost empty

The New York State Senate chambers (photo: NY Senate)


Though hundreds of thousands of votes across New York are still to be counted and many races are not yet called, it appears certain that Democrats will retain the majority in the State Senate that they won two years ago, and by a fairly wide margin. But, Republicans seem poised to regain several seats in the chamber to narrow what has been an exceptionally wide 40-23 seat margin and keep Democrats from expanding it to what they hoped would be a veto-proof supermajority.

With a comfortable hold on the State Assembly and the governor’s office, Democrats will continue to control state government for at least the next two years.

But with the 2020 election heading toward counting of absentee and other paper ballots, a number of State Senate races remain up in the air.

Unofficial election night results showed Democrats winning at least 28 State Senate seats and Republicans winning 9. With about 1.2 million absentee ballots cast statewide in the election and with counting of those ballots set to only begin next week, it’s too early to tell how the rest of the 26 races will end up.

Early indications show that Republicans seem to have a lead in several competitive districts home to first-term Democratic senators, meaning the Democratic majority could be diminished by as many as five seats. Republican Senate Minority Leader Rob Ortt said Wednesday he believes his conference will have at least 27 seats when the dust settles.

Going into the election, Democrats held 40 seats and Republicans held 20 seats in the 63-seat Senate, while three seats most recently held by Republicans were left vacant based on retirements or resignations.

Democrats were hoping to pick up ten seats, particularly “open” seats where there had been Republican retirements and the districts held a Democratic voter enrollment advantage. Democrats were also on the defensive in several seats. It remains to be seen how all those districts will shake out.

“Despite a difficult night for many Democratic candidates throughout the state and nation, the Senate Democratic Conference comfortably retained our majority and will be welcoming a historic group of new upstate Democrats to the Senate,” said Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, a Westchester Democrat who was just reelected, in a statement. “With the record high number of outstanding absentee ballots that are overwhelmingly Democratic, we will add even more victories to our majority as the vote counts continue. The Senate Democratic Majority will continue to lead New York State forward as we recover from this pandemic and economic crisis.”

In a Wednesday appearance on The Capitol Pressroom radio program, Deputy Majority leader Mike Gianaris, a Queens Democrat who also won reelection this week, expressed confidence that there are an “overwhelming” number of Democratic votes that were cast in absentee ballots. “Given our projections, we fully expected that some of these close races we were going to be behind on election night and ultimately win,” he said. “That's the posture we're in right now. We secured 36 seats comfortably so the majority is intact with a sizeable cushion. That number is going to grow because there are eight or so districts where we still believe we can overtake the Republicans.”

On the Republican side, Minority Leader Ortt, speaking to reporters on Wednesday morning, saw the early results as an indication that voters are disaffected with Democrats. “What you saw last night was a repudiation of one party rule,” he said, confident that the party will win up to 29 seats once all votes are counted.

Along with the Senate races, he also pointed to the party’s victory in some congressional seats held by Democrats. “That is a huge, huge signal, I think certainly to the leadership of the majority of the State Senate that the people of New York, of all political stripes, did not like what they saw the last two years,” Ortt said. “And they want to see something different. They want to see more balance, they want to see checks.”

In seven districts where Democrats had expressed confidence about picking up seats previously held by Republicans, the results are mixed so far. The in-person vote tallies do not account for significant numbers of absentee ballots, leaving a lot unknown for the time being. The State BOE provided a snapshot of absentee ballot numbers as of November 6, though absentee ballots were continuing to be delivered and those numbers were likely to change.  

In District 1, Republican nominee Assemblymember Anthony Palumbo leads with 54.08%, or 74,289 votes, against Democrat Laura Ahearn, who has received 55,554 votes, about 40.44%. There were 32,485 absentee ballots returned by voters in the district. Of those, 15,508 were from Democratic voters, 7,322 from Republicans and 7,588 from independent voters. 

In District 41, incumbent Republican Senator Sue Serino is ahead with 56.49%, or 68,907 votes, against Democrat Karen Smythe, who has 49,477 votes, about 40.56%. This is Smythe’s second time challenging Serino. In 2018, Serino won by only 688 votes. 30,712 voters have returned absentee ballots, including 16,088 Democratic voters, 5,580 Republican voters, and 7,166 independent voters.   

In District 46, Republican Richard Amedure has received 66,784 votres, about 51.19%, compared to Democrat Michelle Hinchey, who has 58,613 votes, or 44.93% so far. There were 25,987 absentee ballots returned from 13,311 Democratic voters, 4,980 Republican voters, and 5,910 independent voters. 

In District 50, Republican Angi Renna leads with 63,299 votes, about 51.45%, against Democrat John Mannion, who has 56,071 votes, about 45.57%. There are 37,149 absentee ballots left to be counted from 17,127 Democrats, 9,286 Republicans and 8,450 independents. 

In District 55, Democrat Samra Brouk has the lead with 59,560 votes, about 49.88%, against Republican Chris Missick, who has received 54,504 votes, about 45.65%. Voters returned 42,443 absentee ballots in the district – 21,018 came from Democrats, 9,141 from Republicans and 8,982 from independents. 

In District 56, Democrat Jeremy Cooney has a marginal lead, with 46,469 votes, about 47.16%, over Republican Mike Barry Jr., who is just behind with 45,587 votes, about 46.27 %. There were 32,578 absentee ballots returned from the district including 16,444 from Democrats, 7,017 from Republicans and 7,108 from independents.  

In District 60, Democrat Sean Ryan has won 68,633 votes, about 54.32%, leading against Republican Joshua Mertzlufft, who is far behind with 52,391 votes, about 41.47%. Ryan may well keep his lead as the 26,729 absentee ballots in the district are counted. Most of the absentees, 15,347 to be exact, were from Democratic voters, while 5,076 were from Republicans and 4,517 were from independents. 

In three districts, Democrats felt they had a solid chance of flipping Republicans seats but the current vote tallies, without the absentee counts, look promising for the GOP.

In District 4, incumbent Republican Phil Boyle has a strong lead with 69,199 votes, about 55.49%, against Democratic challenger former Assemblymember Christine Pellegrino, who has received 46,464 votes, about 37.26 %. There were 19,717 absentee ballots from the district, including from 9,495 Democrats, 4,747 Republicans and 4,363 independent voters. 

In District 51, Republican Peter Oberacker has won 57.01%, or 64,014 votes, so far, while Democrat Jim Barber trails with 37.70%, or 42,336 votes. Voters returned 20,264 absentee ballots, including 9,020 Democrats, 5,742 Republicans and 4,281 independents.  

In District 61, Republican Ed Rath already has 57.81%, or 64,887 votes, against Democrat Jacqualine Berger, who has received 36.81%, or 41,314 votes. Of the 31,628 absentee ballots returned in the district, 16,121 were from Democratic voters, 7,635 from Republicans and 5,987 from independents.  

Republicans fielded competitive candidates in several races, particularly challenging first-time Democrats elected in 2018 in relatively moderate districts. Almost all of those challenges seem like they could yield seats.

In District 3, Republican challenger Alexis Weik leads with 53.01%, or 59,155 votes, against first-term incumbent Democratic Senator Monica Martinez, who has received 40.68%, or 45,388 votes so far. There were 20,012 absentee ballots returned, including 9,715 from Democrats, 4,693 from Republicans, and 4,416 from independents. 

In District 5, Republican candidate Edmund Smyth is leading with 51.33%, or 69,015 votes, against incumbent Democrat Jim Gaughran, who has 41%, or 55,132 votes. There are plenty of absentees to count, however, and they favor Democrats. Of the 36,048 absentee ballots returned, 18,445 were from Democratic voters, 7,366 from Republicans and 8,645 from independents. 

In District 6, incumbent Democratic State Senator Kevin Thomas is behind with 56,672 votes, or 43.03%, against Republican Dennis Dunne, who has 64,509 votes, about 48.99%. Voters returned 27,600 absentee ballots including 13,553 Democrats, 7,127 Republicans and 5,760 independents. 

In District 22, Republican challenger Vito Bruno is in the lead with 40,621 votes, about 51.37%, against incumbent Democratic State Senator Andrew Gounardes, who has received 34,586 votes, about 43.73%. According to the New York City Board of Elections, 39,294 voters requested absentee ballots in the district, including 24,689 Democrats and 5,587 Republicans. Of those, a total of 18,524 ballots were returned by 11,622 Democrats and 2,651 Republicans. Another 7,785 independent voters also requested absentees and 3,714 returned them to the BOE. 

In District 39, Democratic State Senator James Skoufis, a first-term incumbent, is currently ahead but with a margin that appears too early to call, though the senator did declare victory. He has received 50%, or 54,976 votes, so far, compared to Republican challenger Steve Brescia’s 44.23%, or 48,639 votes. There were 5,432 absentees returned – including 3,069 from Democrats, 927 from Republicans and 1,128 from independents.

In District 40, incumbent Democratic State Senator Pete Harckham, another first-term senator, is trailing with 45.48%, or 58,233 votes, against Republican challenger Rob Astorino, who has received 51.31%, or 65,686 votes, and was previously Westchester County Executive and the 2014 GOP nominee for governor. There were 31,622 absentee ballots returned in the district, including from 17,354 Democratic voters, 5,775 Republican voters and 7,000 independent voters. 

In District 42, Republican Mike Martucci is in the lead with 52.65%, or 58,685 votes, against Democratic incumbent Jen Metzger, who has received 43.11%, or 48,054 votes. There are 12,700 absentee ballots left to be counted including 6,526 from Democrats, 3,141 from Republicans and 2,363 from independents.  

Besides Stewart-Cousins and Gianaris, other incumbent Democrats who won reelection, many of them running uncontested, include John Brooks, James Sanders, John Liu, Jessica Ramos, Leroy Comrie, Toby Ann Stavisky, Simcha Felder, Julia Salazar, Roxanne Persaud, Zellnor Myrie, Kevin Parker, Diane Savino, Brian Kavanagh, Brad Hoylman, Liz Krueger, José Serrano, Brian Benjamin, Robert Jackson, Luis Sepúlveda, José Rivera, Alessandra Biaggi, Jamaal Bailey, Shelley Mayer, Neil Breslin, and Tim Kennedy.

The conference is set to have one newcomer in Jabari Brisport, an activist and teacher backed by the Working Families Party and the Democratic Socialists of America, who ran uncontested in the general election for the 25th State Senate District in Brooklyn. Brisport pulled off an upset in the primary, defeating Assemblymember Tremaine Wright, who was supported by the previous officeholder, the retiring Velmanette Montgomery, and a third candidate, Jason Salmon.

The nine incumbent Republicans who won their races include Minority Leader Ortt, and Senators Andrew Lanza, Joseph Griffo, Patty Ritchie, James Tedisco, Fred Akshar, Pamela Helming, George Borrello, and Patrick Gallivan.

***
by Samar Khurshid, senior reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

Note - this article has been updated.

Note- this article has been updated with a snapshot of absentee ballot totals as of November 6. It has also been corrected to reflect accurate absentee ballot totals from Senate District 22.  

]]>
The State of Play in the State Senate as the 2020 Election Moves to Counting Absentee Ballots Wed, 04 Nov 2020 05:00:00 +0000
How New York's Smaller Political Parties are Faring at Meeting New Ballot Thresholds https://www.gothamgazette.com/state/9881-new-york-smaller-political-parties-fared-meeting-new-ballot-thresholds https://www.gothamgazette.com/state/9881-new-york-smaller-political-parties-fared-meeting-new-ballot-thresholds aoc sm pol

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez & NYWFP Director Sochie Nnaemeka (photo: @AOC)


Many of New York’s smaller political parties face an uncertain future after they appear to have failed to garner enough votes to keep an automatic ballot line over the next two years under new rules that went into effect in this election cycle. Only the Working Families Party and the Conservative Party seem to have emerged unscathed, rallying voters to meet new thresholds through votes for their presidential and vice presidential nominees. 

As part of the state budget, the Legislature and Governor Andrew Cuomo approved a new campaign finance system for New York with a public matching component and lower contribution limits, meant to curb the effects of wealthy donors and encourage small donations from everyday New Yorkers. Beginning in 2021, candidates will be able to opt in to the voluntary system. 

But the new system was passed in combination with increased thresholds for political party ballot access that essentially only place a burden on minor parties like the Working Families, Green, Conservative, Libertarian, and Independence Parties. Under New York’s fusion voting system, those parties can cross-endorse candidates from the Democratic and Republican parties, and all the votes for the same candidates get tallied together. For instance, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were the Democratic presidential and vice presidential nominees but also appeared on the ballot on the Working Families Party line. Likewise, Trump and Pence were candidates on the Republican and Conservative Party lines.

Under the new ballot rules, minor parties have to win 2% of all votes cast or 130,000 votes, whichever is higher, every two years, in gubernatorial and presidential elections, in order to win a ballot line on which they can run candidates for all offices as they choose. And the votes must come at the top of the ticket, for the presidential/vice presidential nominees and the nominees for governor and lieutenant governor, which are run as pairs on the general election  ballot.

Under previous rules, parties only required 50,000 votes in gubernatorial elections every four years. Unlike the broader campaign finance system and contribution limits that will be in place after the November 2022 general election, these party ballot thresholds went into effect for the presidential election this year -- a combination that appeared designed to hurt the Working Families Party and aid Governor Cuomo’s expected campaign for a fourth term.

Despite a daunting challenge, the Working Families Party marshaled immense resources, including hundreds of thousands of dollars in spending and endorsements from many major Democratic politicians both in New York and beyond, and far exceeded the needed votes.

Through the initial count of in-person ballots cast via early voting and on Election Day across the state, Biden and Harris received 287,374 votes on the Working Families Party line, about 4.42% of the nearly 6.5 million votes cast through Tuesday evening. 

Trump and Pence got 249,094 votes on the Conservative Party line, or about 3.83% of the vote.

Both parties would seem to have crossed the barrier for automatic ballot access for the next two years. Based on past results, the Conservative Party was expected to more easily meet the threshold while the WFP was thought to be in some doubt, leading to its massive campaign.

The unofficial election night results don’t account for the 1.2 million absentee ballots cast statewide, which will not begin to be tallied until next week and will change the exact thresholds that the parties have to meet. Even if all those absentee ballots are validated, which is unlikely, the total vote will be about 7.7 million, setting the ballot access threshold at roughly 154,000 votes.

“New York’s progressive movement is stronger than ever. As ballots continue to be counted, we are confident that the New York Working Families Party will meet the ballot threshold and will remain on the ballot in New York,” said Sochie Nnaemeka, WFP state director, in a statement on Tuesday night. “This is a victory for our party and our movement.”

Other minor parties didn’t fare as well and it’s unlikely that uncounted absentee ballots will change their fate. The Green Party only received 22,829 votes for their presidential and vice presidential candidates, Howie Hawkins and Angela Nicole Walker, through unofficial election night tallies. The Libertarian Party, with Jo Jorgensen and Jeremy Cohen on their line, received 46,791 votes thus far. The Independence Party received 17,240 for Brock Pierce and Karla Ballard. The Serve America Movement (SAM) Party, which barely won a New York ballot line through its 2018 gubernatorial candidate, will also lose that line. The SAM Party did not appear on the ballot since it did not endorse a presidential candidate or run their own. When the new rules were first proposed, the SAM Party was among the minor parties that opposed them, viewing them as a direct threat to the state’s fusion voting system. The party is still pursuing a court challenge against the rules, arguing that they violate the party's First Amendment right. 

The additional hurdles for the other minor parties -- namely the Green and Libertarian Parties, which do often run their own candidates in New York -- don’t stop there. Without automatic access, parties must collect enough petition signatures to get on the ballot, and the new system increased the number of required signatures from 15,000 to 45,000 for statewide candidates.

Meeting the vote threshold was a particular challenge this year since turnout reached a historic high in the state, as it did across the country. In 2018, if the threshold had been in place, only the Conservative Party would have managed to meet it. The party received 253,000 votes for its endorsed candidate, Republican Marc Molinaro. More than 6 million people voted that year; which meant the threshold was 130,000, since a 2% threshold of 122,000 votes would have been lower. In 2016, when 7.8 million New Yorkers voted in the presidential election, the threshold would have been even higher, at 156,000 votes. Again, only the Conservative Party surpassed it with 292,392 votes for Donald Trump.

Another test for the parties will be coming soon, with the 2022 election for Governor now less than two years away.

***
by Samar Khurshid, senior reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

Note - this article has been updated with the total absentee ballot numbers and with a reference to a court challenge by the Serve America Movement party against the new ballot rules.

]]>
How New York's Smaller Political Parties are Faring at Meeting New Ballot Thresholds Wed, 04 Nov 2020 05:00:00 +0000
After Large Participation and Long Lines in 2020, What Changes Could Improve Early Voting in the Future? https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/9874-large-participation-long-lines-2020-changes-improve-early-voting https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/9874-large-participation-long-lines-2020-changes-improve-early-voting waits line hundred

A long early voting line (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)


New York City's first early voting period in a presidential general election saw 1.1 million in-person votes cast, hours of waiting across the city, and the threat of a court challenge to expand voting options. Experts and administrators didn't know exactly what to expect because of the unprecedented confluence of the coronavirus pandemic, universal absentee voting, and Trump-era political zeal.

The results point to a number of potential changes that could improve the option in the future, including the major citywide elections in 2021. Highest on the list for voting rights advocates is eliminating assigned early voting sites and expanding the total number of early voting poll sites in each county.

In the two election cycles since early voting was adopted in New York State, the option has always played second fiddle, garnering significantly less turnout than Election Day, including during the June primaries this year. But the nine days this general election has seen a surge of in-person early voting across the state, especially in New York City, and has led to renewed calls to improve the option in the five boroughs.

"Because it was new we didn’t quite know what to expect but always assumed it would be a very popular option once deployed, as it has been around the country," wrote Jarret Berg, co-founder of the advocacy group Vote Early New York, in an email. The system proved to be "indispensable to ensuring voter access during Covid 19 social distancing," he wrote.

By state law passed in 2019, early voting takes place over a nine-day period ahead of Election Day, with one off-day between the last day of that period and the final day of voting. In the 2020 general election in New York City, the turnout rate for early voting was 21% of registered voters, across 88 assigned polling locations. In June, only about 52,000 people voted early citywide following the first-ever expansion of absentee balloting to all eligible voters due to the pandemic. About 2.5 million New Yorkers (about 18% of registered voters) voted early statewide for the general election, which is expected to see a modern record for overall turnout.

Throughout the week, and especially on the weekends, lines of voters extended for blocks at some poll sites leading the New York City Board of Elections to add more hours to the early voting schedule for the last several days of voting. In one Upper East Side district, the BOE even added an alternate site after Assemblymember Rebecca Seawright, a candidate for reelection, announced her intention to sue over what she called "the horrendous treatment of the disabled, senior citizens, and working men and women," who had to wait in line, sometimes in the rain. Before that last-minute additional location was opened, the one early voting site in the area was that with the most voters assigned to it of any in the city, a Campaign Finance Board analysis showed.

There are a number of reasons early voting may have been higher this month than in the small previous sample of electins offering it as an option, beyond the sheer volume of voters for a presidential election. One could be the high visibility of early voting in other states; where standing in long lines, by analogy, became synonymous with both civic duty and Trump resistance in the heavily left-leaning city. Another could be the emphasis on early voting as a more certain and less burdensome alternative to mail-in voting, and as a safer and more speedy (at least in theory) option than traditionally-crowded Election Day poll sites. Voters were also primed to explore alternative voting methods in the general election after having been rapidly introduced to absentee voting on a mass scale this summer, which to some extent broke the dominance of Election Day.

Voting rights advocates say turnout unpredictability like this is exactly why the Board of Elections should offer as many voting options as possible -- while there wound up being 89 early voting poll sites, there are 1,201 poll sites open on Election Day across the city. By extension, flexibility in early voting site choice could at least in part mitigate the impact of high turnout elections. New York City is the only jurisdiction in the state that does not offer universal early voting sites because of carve-outs in state law for counties with certain practical hurdles to implementation. Exemptions were crafted for counties where the complexity of the election system means it would be difficult to prevent double voting across multiple sites or to produce a ballot style for every possible voter (given the number of districts or languages spoken) at every site.

"The rest of the state permits voters to visit any site in their county during early voting, which can help balance out lines in high turnout years, and gives voters the flexibility they were promised when the program was enacted," Berg said.

He added that the New York City Board of Elections has the discretion to create universal early voting on the county (AKA borough) level. To do so on a citywide basis would likely require a change in state law, he said.

Deputy Mayor J. Phillip Thompson said on Election Day at a press briefing with the mayor that the city would be pursuing an agenda that includes universal polling locations, though he did not elaborate on how the administration would secure the Board of Elections-controlled change.

Election observers have pointed to operational fixes that could facilitate better early voting experiences. Having more entry points, check-in tables, and ballot scanners at poll sites could reduce lines outside. In many cases, doing so would require administrators to secure sites with more space -- especially under social distancing restrictions.

One of the surest ways to reduce lines at polling locations is to build out early voting infrastructure. At least three bills in the State Legislature aim to increase the number of early voting poll sites in each county and ensure that they are located based on potential demand. Only one, however, would have a direct impact on New York City's system.

Legislation introduced by State Senator Michael Gianaris, a Queens Democrat and deputy majority leader, would double the number of early voting sites, from one per every 50,000 registered voters in a county to one per every 25,000, and would make that ratio a binding requirement (the law currently allows counties to stop opening locations after they reach seven, regardless of the ratio to voters). The bill, introduced on October 30, during the last weekend of the nine-day early voting period, does not have a companion in the Assembly.

A second bill, which would not have an impact on New York City's current operation, would increase the minimum number of early voting sites per county from seven to ten and, in larger counties, to each town or city. Good government groups say the measure would help ensure local boards of elections are meeting the nonbinding goal of having a site for every 50,000 voters, which is outlined in state law. Advocates have called for that goal to be made a mandate.

State Senator Zellnor Myrie, a Brooklyn Democrat and chair of the Senate elections committee who sponsored the enacted early voting legislation, said the ratio of voters to sites was a concerning problem and advocates have said the assignment process is nontransparent.

"There were clearly too few sites to accommodate the level of interest we saw from voters, and there was also a wide disparity in the number of voters assigned to each site (from just 10,000 to over 100,000)," Myrie wrote in a statement Monday.

According to Berg, the city's program "suffered from an unaccountable site assignment process and the lack of borough or citywide access, both of which should be implemented as soon as possible."

A third bill, which would primarily impact upstate New York and Long Island, would require the largest municipalities in each county to have an early voting site. That bill passed both chambers of the Legislature in July but has not been delivered to the governor, who may request it at any time, for signing.

The League of Women Voters of New York State, which supports the bill, says the state should approach the reform with caution as it could place untenable burdens on some counties.

"While we’re 100% in favor of increasing the number of early voting poll sites, it is not feasible in most counties without financial support from the state," said Jennifer Wilson, the League's deputy director. Fifteen of the 34 counties with only one early voting site in 2019 did not have that site in the largest municipality, according to an analysis provided by the League.

"We’d love to see every county add early voting sites and hours going forward but most counties do not have adequate funds to make that happen," Wilson wrote.

Any changes to early voting could quickly impact the 2021 New York City elections, where all of city government is on the ballot and voters will select a new Mayor, among many other new and some returning office-holders, via June primaries and a fall general election.

***
by Ethan Geringer-Sameth, reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

]]>
After Large Participation and Long Lines in 2020, What Changes Could Improve Early Voting in the Future? Tue, 03 Nov 2020 05:00:00 +0000
Tracking Voter Turnout in the 2020 General Election in New York https://www.gothamgazette.com/state/9877-2020-general-election-voter-turnout-new-york https://www.gothamgazette.com/state/9877-2020-general-election-voter-turnout-new-york voters at the polls NYC mayor

Voters at the polls (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)


UPDATE as of November 15: Voter Turnout in New York City Jumped 7.5% from 2016 to 2020

***
Original article from November 3:

While final results and tallies are still unknown, it appears that the 2020 election has seen an increase in voter turnout in New York, as it has across the country.

As of November 1, the New York State Board of Elections reported there were 5.57 million registered voters in New York City, among 13.56 million across the state. It appears there will be more than 2.8 million votes cast in the city this general election, but the final tally will be heavily dependent upon how many absentee votes are cast and counted. Roughly 6,495,194 were cast in the presidential race across the state as of election night, according to the State Board of Elections.

In the 2016 presidential election, 2.76 million voters cast ballots in New York City -- roughly 56% of registered voters at the time -- out of a total 7.8 million votes cast statewide, a 62% turnout rate.

In the 2012 presidential election 2.47 million votes were cast in New York City, for a 53% turnout rate, out of 7.13 million votes across the state, good for 59% turnout. In 2008, when Barack Obama was first elected president, there were 2.6 million votes cast in New York City, a 57% turnout, out of 7.7 million votes cast across the state, or 64% turnout.

This year, it appears the city will likely surpass its 2016 vote total, though not necessarily its turnout rate. Vote counting is ongoing, particularly amid an unprecedented expansion of absentee voting, where eligibility was made universal due to the coronavirus.

After polls closed on Election Day, November 3, the city Board of Elections reported a total of 2,346,302 votes cast between the nine-day early voting period and Election Day in-person votes. That number includes more than 1.1 million New York City voters who cast ballots during the state’s first early voting period to occur during a general election for president.

Meanwhile, more than 1 million absentee ballots were requested in the city, and more than 550,000 had been returned by voters and received by the Board of Elections as of numbers released on Election Day, with another day for such ballots to be received in the mail. If most of those ballots are valid, the city could hit and surpass 2.8 million votes. Turnout of 2.8 million would be about 50% of the 5.57 million registered voters in the city (about 600,000 of whom have been deemed inactive due to a lack of recent participation in elections).

In-person voting totals across New York State hit 6,495,194 on election night, per the State Board of Elections, with hundreds of thousands of absentee ballots still to be counted. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris received 55.16% of the vote, with President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence receiving 42.8%. In New York City, Biden and Harris received roughly 73% of the presidential/vice presidential race votes, with Donald Trump and Mike Pence getting about 26%.

More than 287,338 of the votes across the state (170,000 in New York City alone) for Biden and Harris came on the Working Families Party ballot line, which means the party hit the new state threshold and will continue to have an automatic ballot line moving forward, for at least two more years. Trump and Pence received 249,078 of their votes across the state on the Conservative Party line, helping it to also hit the threshold to keep its line. The fate of other small political parties' ballot lines looks doomed.

New York City’s general election early voting numbers dwarfed early voting turnout in the June primaries -- when only 52,000 people took advantage of the option citywide -- and the roughly 60,000 people who cast early ballots last fall, when there was little on the ballot and early voting was first offered in New York.

But not all boroughs saw the same enthusiasm for early voting this year. Brooklyn saw a relatively high early turnout rate of about 22% of registered voters, while the Bronx and Queens showed the lowest participation with roughly 18%, each (Manhattan fell in between with 19% turnout). Staten Island was an early voting outlier with 30% of its registered voters participating. The disparity may have something to do with the availability of early voting poll sites. Staten Island had the fewest number of early polling locations but the lowest ratio of sites to registered voters: about 35,000 voters per location on average. That ratio was more than doubled in Manhattan and Queens, and the Bronx and Brooklyn each had ratios above 1 site per 50,000 voters.

But Staten Island’s participation rates are often higher than other boroughs and this year’s gap may also have had to do with hosting the only competitive congressional race in the city. In New York's 11th Congressional District, spanning all of Staten Island and some of Southern Brooklyn, incumbent Rep. Max Rose, a first-term Democrat, is facing off in a bitter battle with Republican Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis. The challenger holds a large lead as of election night and declared victory, while Rose pointed to potentially 50,000 absentee votes still to be counted and did not concede.

Without any absentee ballots counted in the race, 236,008 votes had been tallied on election night, with Malliotakis taking 136,382 of them, good for almost 58% to Rose’s 42% and 99,224 votes.

Roughly 192,000 voters in the district went to the polls when Rose was elected in 2018, defeating incumbent GOP Rep. Dan Donovan, while 232,000 voters cast ballots in the race that gave Donovan the seat in the last presidential election.

A similar dynamic is playing out in State Senate District 22, where first-term incumbent Democrat Andrew Gounardes is being challenged by Republican Vito Bruno. In that district, which covers parts of southern Brooklyn, Gounardes beat then-long-time incumbent Marty Golden, a Republican, in a 2018 race with 66,000 total votes -- just three-quarters of the turnout in 2016, when Golden ran unopposed.

Without absentee ballots counted in that race, 75,293 votes had been tallied as of election night, and Bruno led with 40,621 votes, good for almost 54%, to Gounardes’ 34,586 votes, or almost 46%.

There are many more numbers to crunch in the coming days and weeks, especially as the absentee ballots are counted.

"There are going to be people who haven't voted before," said Jerry Skurnik, a veteran political consultant who runs the Prime New York firm, in an interview with Gotham Gazette. "I think there are two reasons for it. One is the interest in elections and politics because of Trump. And the fact that it's easier to vote this year...Being able to vote absentee without having to really be out of town, or being able to early vote without having to wait online today is a lot more convenient."

According to an analysis of voter history data from Prime New York, about a quarter of the roughly 850,000 primary voters in New York City had not voted in a previous primary over the last ten years. Prime New York will eventually conduct the same analysis of the general election.

***
by Ben Max and Ethan Geringer-Sameth
@GothamGazette

]]>
Tracking Voter Turnout in the 2020 General Election in New York Tue, 03 Nov 2020 05:00:00 +0000
Developing 2020 General Election Results in New York https://www.gothamgazette.com/state/9878-2020-general-election-results-in-new-york-developing https://www.gothamgazette.com/state/9878-2020-general-election-results-in-new-york-developing voting 2020 basement

2020 Voting (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)


Results are not official, hundreds of thousands of ballots are still to be counted, and only some New York races can be called as of election night, but millions of votes cast by New Yorkers in the 2020 general election have provided some indication of winners of a number of races.

In-person voting totals across New York State hit 6,495,194 on election night, per the State Board of Elections, including 2,346,302 in New York City, with hundreds of thousands of absentee ballots still to be counted, including roughly 550,000 in New York City alone.

We don't know who won the presidential race, but Joe Biden and Kamala Harris won New York and its 29 electoral votes, at this point receiving 55.16% of the counted New York vote, with President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence receiving 42.8%. In New York City, Biden and Harris have received roughly 73% of the presidential/vice presidential race votes, with Trump and Pence getting about 26%. Like all other numbers, those figures are all but sure to change as the rest of the votes are counted. A Biden-Harris national popular vote win is all but certain, while an Electoral College win is appearing more and more likely as of Wednesday morning, as is Republicans holding on to the majority in the U.S. Senate and Democrats holding on to the majority in the U.S. House of Representatives.

As for a still very unofficial breakdown by borough, with many thousands of votes still to be counted, Biden-Harris are ahead of Trump-Pence in the four boroughs other than Staten Island, which was also the only borough Trump won in 2016. Biden was ahead of Trump 84%-14% in Manhattan; 82%-17% in the Bronx; 73.6%-25% in Brooklyn; 68.5%-30% in Queens. Trump was ahead 61.3%-37.4% on Staten Island.

More than 287,338 of the votes across the state (170,000 in New York City alone) for Biden and Harris came on the Working Families Party ballot line, which means the party hit the new state threshold and will continue to have an automatic ballot line moving forward, for at least two more years. Trump and Pence received 249,078 of their votes across the state on the Conservative Party line, helping it to also hit the threshold to keep its ballot line. The fate of other small political parties' ballot lines looks doomed, though they can potentially win them back in the future via gubernatorial or presidential elections.

In New York's 11th Congressional District, spanning all of Staten Island and some of Southern Brooklyn, incumbent Rep. Max Rose, a first-term Democrat, has been locked in a bitter battle with Republican Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis. The challenger holds a large lead as of election night and declared victory, while Rose pointed to potentially 50,000 absentee votes still to be counted and did not concede.

Without any absentee ballots counted in the race, 236,008 votes had been tallied on election night, with Malliotakis taking 136,382 of them, good for almost 58% to Rose’s 42% and 99,224 votes.

A similar dynamic is playing out in the overlapping 22nd State Senate of Southern Brooklyn, where first-term incumbent Democrat Andrew Gounardes is being challenged by Republican Vito Bruno. Without absentee ballots counted, 75,293 votes had been tallied as of election night, and Bruno led with 40,621 votes, good for almost 54%, to Gounardes’ 34,586 votes, or almost 46%. The city Board of Elections has already received 12,744 absentee ballots in the district, with more likely coming in, and they skew heavily toward Democratic voters, according to figures provided by the BOE. Whether those Democratic voters, among others, fall heavily enough toward Gounardes is still to be seen.

In the overlapping 46th Assembly District, Democratic Assemblymember Mathylde Frontus is in trouble against Republican challenger Mark Szuszkiewicz. With thousands of absentee votes to be counted, Frontus has received 15,030 votes (45.66%) to Szuszkiewicz’s 17,852 votes (54.2%).

Gounardes’ race is part of the battle for control of the State Senate, which Democrats flipped in 2018 and took a wide margin that Republicans were hoping to chip away at this year to set themselves up to retake the chamber in 2022. The GOP appears to be on the verge of making up some ground, though there are many votes still to be counted and the math of the seats is somewhat tricky.

While Gounardes and several other Democratic incumbents in the Senate are in some trouble, Democrats are on the verge of flipping a few seats that are or were most recently held by Republicans. The 22nd District is the only competitive State Senate race in New York City, while several races on Long Island and north of the five boroughs are highly competitive. (A full rundown of competitive State Senate races will be available later on Wednesday.)

As is always the case, Long Island -- especially Nassau County -- is making for one of the most interesting battleground areas in the state. As he did four years ago, Trump is winning Suffolk County by a wide margin, but the presidential vote in Nassau is close -- Hillary Clinton narrowly won Nassau County in 2016. As of Wednesday morning, Trump had won 49.56% of the vote in Nassau to Biden's 48.46%.

One to several State Senate seats that Democrats flipped on the Island in 2018 may flip back, but absentee votes must be counted and will impact those races as well as House contests and the presidential tally.

While Democrats are not in any risk of losing the Assembly majority or needing to worry about the margin shrinking much, Frontus is not the only Democratic incumbent in some trouble, and Democrats also struggled in multiple open seats without an incumbent running. Other Democrats who could be knocked off include Edward Braunstein of Queens and Michael Cusick of Staten Island, though both will probably prevail once absentee ballots are counted. Republicans also appear set to keep Malliotakis' Assembly seat in a district Democrats had begun to have high hopes for.

Democratic Assemblymember Rebecca Seawright of the Upper East Side does appear on the verge of holding onto her seat against a spirited Republican challenge complicated by the fact that Seawright’s campaign made errors keeping her from the Democratic Party ballot line. And Phara Souffrant Forrest, who beat Assemblymember Walter Mosley in the June Democratic primary, again prevailed over Mosley, who was on the Working Families Party ballot line.

Less competitive races that can and have been called include:
-Democratic City Council Member Donovan Richards winning the race to be the next Queens Borough President.

-Democrat Darma Diaz was uncontested in the general election and will become the next City Council Member in Brooklyn's 37th District, a seat that has been vacant since Rafael Espinal resigned for a private sector job.

-Democrat Jabari Brisport winning the 25th State Senate District in Brooklyn to replace retiring Senator Velmanette Montgomery.

-Democratic City Council Member Ritchie Torres winning the 15th Congressional District seat to replace retiring Rep. Jose Serrano.

-Jamaal Bowman winning the 16th Congressional District in the Bronx and Westchester, aftering having defeated Rep. Eliot Engel in the Democrartic primary.

-Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez winning her first reelection bid in the 14th Congressional District in the Bronx and Queens.

-New York City Congressional Reps. Gregory Meeks, Grace Meng, Nydia Velazquez, Hakeem Jeffries, Yvette Clarke, Jerry Nadler, Carolyn Maloney, and Adriano Espaillat, all Democrats, are all coasting to reelection.

Congressional Races Outside New York City
-It appears Republicans will hold the 1st and 2nd Congressional District seats on Long Island, via Rep. Lee Zeldin and nominee Andrew Garbarino, respectively.

-Democratic Rep. Tom Suozzi is trailing in the 3rd and Democratic Rep. Kathleen Rice is leading in the 4th, with absentee ballots still to count.

-Democrat Mondaire Jones will win the 17th Congressional District seat.

-Democratic Reps. Sean Patrick Maloney and Antonio Delgado are in close races in the 18th and 19th Districts, respectively, as absentee ballot counting is set to begin.

-Democratic Rep. Paul Tonko has a commanding lead in the 20th Congressional District.

-Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik has a commanding lead in the 21st Congressional District.

-Democratic Rep. Anthony Brandisi appears to be in trouble against former Republican Rep. Claudia Tenney, whom he unseated in 2018 in the 22nd Congressional District.

-Republican Reps. Tom Reed, John Katko, and Chris Jacobs appear headed toward reelection in the 23rd, 24th, and 27th Congressional Districts.

-Democratic Reps. Joseph Morelle and Brian Higgins appear headed toward reelection in the 25th and 26th Congressional Districts.

More detailed results will be available in the coming days and weeks.

]]>
Developing 2020 General Election Results in New York Tue, 03 Nov 2020 05:00:00 +0000