The New York City Board of Elections is set to begin counting around 550,000 absentee ballots on Tuesday, more than five times the number of absentee ballots the city counted in 2016, according to the state BOE.
If you spent last week glued to your television, catching glimpses of election workers seated at tables counting ballots in Pennsylvania and other swing states, the visual here will be similar. Board officials will assign bipartisan staff teams to count each election district in an Assembly district. The schedule will be posted the night before, and the counting will take place at locations in each of the five boroughs—including Citi Field in Queens. The count may not wrap up until Thanksgiving week.
Why does New York start counting on Tuesday? That’s the deadline for the Board to accept absentee ballots by mail, as long as it's postmarked by Election Day, which in this case fell on November 3rd. Military ballots must arrive by November 16th. The number of absentee ballots requested by New Yorkers statewide swelled due to the pandemic: 2.4 million absentee ballots were mailed out statewide and 1.5 million have been returned so far.
The count will determine the outcome in two tight congressional races, and offer the final margin of President-elect Joseph Biden’s victory over President Donald Trump in New York.
In the NY-11 congressional district encompassing Staten Island and part of Brooklyn, incumbent Democratic Representative Max Rose is trailing Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis by about 37,000 votes. So far, 41,000 mail-in ballots were returned. Of those returned ballots, more than 24,000 are from registered Democrats and Working Families Party members, meaning even if Rose got all of those votes, he would still be down by roughly 13,000 votes. Malliotakis declared victory on election night, but Rose has so far refused to concede.
Another congressional race to watch is NY-3, which stretches from Eastern Queens to Suffolk County. Incumbent Democrat Tom Suozzi is trailing his Republican challenger, George Santos, by just 4,185 votes, or about 1.5% of the total votes cast in person. The ballots will be tallied in each of the counties that make up the district, with Suffolk election officials not starting until next week.
In this race, 86,000 absentee ballots have been returned so far, with more than 50% from Democrats. There are also 20,000 ballots from unaffiliated voters, plus another 16,000 from Republican voters. While those numbers seem to tilt in Suozzi’s favor, Trump did very well on Long Island during the in-person voting, leaving the race still very much up in the air.
The final tally of votes must be sent to the State Board of Elections for certification by November 28th.