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Long-delayed vote totals are released on eastern Long Island

December 4, 2020 GMT

NEW YORK (AP) — After a delay of several weeks, Suffolk County publicly released absentee ballot totals Friday from the November election, confirming victories by a pair of Republicans in Long Island congressional races.

The ballot tallies, released a day after the state certified election results based on partial vote counts, also showed that President Donald Trump barely edged out Joe Biden in the county, winning it by just 232 votes.

One of Trump’s allies, Republican U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin, won reelection to a fourth term representing the state’s easternmost congressional district. He defeated Democrat Nancy Goroff, a chemistry professor who took a leave from Stony Brook University to seek elective office for the first time.

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The Republican had built a commanding lead over Goroff on Election Day. Absentee ballots helped Goroff narrow the gap somewhat, but Zeldin ultimately prevailed by a comfortable 9.7 percentage points.

The newly released vote totals also confirmed that Republican Andrew Garbarino has won a closely watched battle to succeed longtime U.S. Rep. Peter King on Long Island’s South Shore.

Garbarino, a 36-year-old, four-term state assemblyman, defeated Democrat Jackie Gordon, 55, by just under 7 percentage points.

State elections officials certified Zeldin and Garbarino as the victors in their races Thursday. The Associated Press didn’t call the race until Friday because elections officials in Suffolk County had not made enough of the vote totals public.

The elections board in the county was among several in New York that decided to release no rolling updates on their counts of a record 2 million absentee ballots cast in the state.

New York City’s Board of Elections kept information about its count of more than 662,000 absentee ballots secret until Tuesday.

That was a sharp departure from the practice in several battleground states in the presidential election, where officials updated the public daily on how their count of the mail-in vote was going.

That lack of transparency, and general slowness of the vote count in New York, has prompted some state leaders to call for reforms.

“The country was looking down their noses at Pennsylvania, Georgia for taking so long,” Senate Deputy Majority Leader Michael Gianaris said earlier this week. “New York makes them look good. We are the last in the nation in terms of finishing our vote counts and it’s an embarrassment that would have been more widely known were we at play in the presidential election.”

Vote counting continues in one race in central New York, in the incredibly close contest between U.S. Rep. Anthony Brindisi, a Democrat, and his Republican challenger, former U.S. Rep. Claudia Tenney.

As few as a dozen votes separated the candidates, pending a judge’s review of campaign challenges around certain ballots.