Updated on Nov. 27
Although the Nassau County Board of Elections has finished counting the absentee ballots for the race for Glen Cove mayor, a victor has not yet been announced.
There were 310 affidavit and absentee ballots counted, but 64 have been challenged. Incumbent Mayor Reggie Spinello, an Independence Party member who also ran on the Republican line, continues to lead City Councilman Tim Tenke, a Democrat.
“There are more Republican’s objecting than Democrats,” said Democratic Board of Elections Commissioner David Gugerty, adding that Tenke, who was initially down by 21 votes on Election Night is now trailing by 13.
On Monday, the lawyers representing both candidates appeared in court seeking a postponement, but it was not granted.
Judge Jeffrey Brown is scheduled to go to the Nassau County Board of Elections on Tuesday to review 64 questionable absentee ballots. If the issue is not resolved, there may be voter testimony in court on Thursday.
The work is far from over for Board of Election employees after an election. The day after this year’s general election 20 tables were set up for BOE employees to count the absentee ballots, which is generally a two-week process, depending on the volume of ballots.
Sometimes, like in the Glen Cove mayoral race, lawyers from both parties will be present. “It’s an expensive process to have lawyers there,” Gugerty said. “So, they aren’t requested to be there unless the race is close.”
During the counting of the absentee ballots a Republican will sit across from a Democrat BOE worker and both will consider the ballots together. They look for a number of issues that may cause the ballot to be deemed questionable — was the ballot application filled out property, is the date on the absentee ballot correct, did the voter request the correct ballot — in this case for the general election and not for the primary.
What is judged very closely is the signature. “They consider if the signature is the same as what we have on file for the voter,” Gugerty said. “They also look at the signature on the envelope. Someone could be away at school and their parents could sign for them, which means the vote wouldn’t count.”
Or the vote could be from an elderly person, he continued, and someone may have signed for them. That’s also grounds for the ballot to be ineligible.
Illegal voting led by a political party is yet another consideration. If a bundle of absentee ballots is brought to the BOE and the signatures look similar, it could indicate that they have been collected and signed by a party operative seeking an advantage in a race. That has never happened, as far as Gugerty knows, but the BOE is on the lookout for that type of fraud regardless.
“Out of the 64 ballots, the majority that are being questioned are based on the signature,” Gugerty said. “But this may not be resolved on Monday in court.”
Gugerty said he is pleased with the work of his staff at the BOE. “Once again, this year I and my Republican counterpart, Commissioner Louis Savinetti are gratified with how hard our bipartisan teams worked to ensure that each and every absentee ballot are treated with respect and counted to be included in the final election results.”