Brendan Sweeney, the Republican candidate for the Suffolk County Legislature’s 6th District, is seeking a court review of ballots in his race against the Legis. Sarah Anker, shows documents.
Sweeney, who led by nearly 1,200 votes on early return on election night, has filed a petition in Suffolk County Supreme Court to have a judge check dozens of ballots that Republican officials challenged, officials said.
The margin has narrowed in recent weeks, and Anker (D-Mount Sinai) has now fallen by just 12 votes in unofficial returns, with the 74 challenged ballots not yet counted, according to Suffolk Democratic Party spokesman Keith Davies.
Anchor is likely to win if Judge Paul J. Baisley rules that the majority of those ballots are valid and can be counted, Davies said.
The ballots – challenged by Republicans over questions as to whether voters’ signatures match – are all from registered Democratic voters, Davies said.
“The math just doesn’t work,” Davies said of the Republican challenge. “There’s no way it goes out that Sarah Anker does not win and continues to serve as a legislator in the Sixth District.”
Suffolk Republican President Jesse Garcia said the party feels “cautiously optimistic” about the results.
“We secure and practice democracy,” said Garcia, who also works on the Suffolk County Board of Elections as GOP Hispanic outreach coordinator.
A court hearing is scheduled for Monday morning before Baisley.
The results of the 6th District Race will determine whether Republicans achieve a super-majority of 12 lawmakers, enough to override vetoes and pass legislation and bindings without democratic support. The Republican caucus, including Selden conservative Nicholas Caracappa, will hold at least 11 seats in January after a red wave earlier this month helped the GOP turn three seats.
Sweeney, an advocate for citizens of Brookhaven Town, had 8,329 votes on election night, according to unofficial results. Anchor, seeking a seventh term, had 7,141 votes, and conservative Anthony DeSimone got 1,488.
Anchor narrowed the gap as officials began counting 1,847 absent and affidavit ballots, officials said.
Republicans objected to the validity of some ballots due to concerns such as inconsistent voter signatures, election officials judging incorrectly on challenges, and absent ballots sent after the due date, court records show.
Electoral officials were divided along party lines over whether to count the 74 ballots challenged by Republicans and one contested by Democrats, Davies said. Under state law, such ballots would be opened and counted within three days without a legal challenge.
The race is likely to be so close that a hand count will be required under state law, officials said.
The law, which came into force this year, requires a two-part committee to carry out a full manual recount when the margin of victory is 20 votes or less or less than 0.5%.
Republican Electoral Commissioner Nick LaLota said there will be hand counts in at least two other races: Southampton Town Highway Superintendent and Shelter Island Town Council.
In Southampton, Republican Charles McArdle leads Democrat Thomas Neely by just 21 votes.
In Shelter Island, Democrat Brett G. Surerus is ahead of Republican Margaret A. Larsen by just six votes.
No date has been set for the manual recalculations, and the process could extend far into the Thanksgiving holiday week, LaLota said Tuesday.
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