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UPDATE: Bishop Makes Small Gains After Day 1 of Absentee Ballot Count

Election districts in Smithtown, Southampton counted first.

According to Randy Altschuler's spokesman, Rob Ryan, the Republican challenger for the First Congressional District seat which currently belongs to Rep. Tim Bishop, D - Southampton, lost 27 votes to the incumbent after day one of absentee ballot counting on Tuesday.

"The good news is that they counted Southampton today," said Ryan. "And we did much better there than we expected, considering that's his hometown. We're pleasantly surprised."

Along with Southampton, election workers counted absentee ballots from Smithtown as well, which is where Altschuler resides - specifically, St. James. And in total, according to Bishop's spokesman, Jon Schneider, election workers counted 24 election districts in Smithtown, as opposed to 10 in Southampton.

"From our perspective, to gain votes in a day where we did so much in Smithtown is a good day for us," said Schneider.

Schneider added that Altschuler's camp filed 24 more objections to votes - one of whom, ironically, turned out to be Bishop's father - than Bishop did, and added that "most objections get denied." So the net gain after day 1 could be a little more, he said.

While election workers have been performing an audit of voting machines over the past week, talks of counts and recounts left off last Tuesday, Nov. 9, when lawyers representing Bishop and Altschuler  of over 181,000 votes cast in the Nov. 2 general election. Altschuler's side, as permitted by state law, chose to let the process - which includes auditing voting machines for mistakes before a hand recount - run its course.

Bishop's call for a recount came after unofficial numbers on election night showed him with a lead of over 3,600 votes. After a recanvass of the electronic voting machines - being used for the first time in a general election in Suffolk County - Altschuler was shown to be in the lead by 383 votes. Last week, Bishop's attorney Thomas Garry stated the 4,000-plus swing in votes showed the need to count the paper ballots. While Garry stated last Tuesday that a petition for hand recount would be coming "within days," no request has been made as of yet.

As of Tuesday afternoon, officials at the Board of Elections had reported no errors in its voting machine audit, after checking 20 machines. Forty-three must be checked error-free in order to complete the audit.

In the meantime, a hand count of over 10,000 absentee ballots and over 1,100 affidavit ballots has begun. Election officials are hopeful a count will be complete by the end of the week, and said that election districts in Smithtown and Southampton were being counted first.

Affidavit ballots may be cast when a voter's name does not appear in the polling place's book of registered voters, or if the voter does not have proper identification at the polling place, among other instances.

According to Bishop spokesman Jon Schneider, the breakdown for the 10,119 absentee ballots goes as follows, by party:

  • Democrat - 3,684
  • Republican - 4,039
  • Independence - 313
  • Conservative - 248
  • Working Families - 13
  • Blank - 1,822

Schneider said the affidavit ballots breakdown as follows, by party:

  • Democrat - 349
  • Republican - 361
  • Independence - 57
  • Conservative - 30
  • Working Families - 8
  • Other - 14
  • Blank - 289

Click here for a recap of prior coverage on the Bishop/Altschuler race.

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