Capitol Notes

Gianaris hopeful all absentee votes counted in contested senate races

Democrats will control the state senate in 2021, but the size of their majority won’t be known until later this month at the earliest.

Based on the in-person voting that has been tabulated so far, the Senate Democrats have picked up three open seats in western New York that Republicans previously controlled and Republicans definitely ousted one Democratic freshman on Long Island. In order to win eight other unresolved seats, only two of which are represented by Republicans, Democrats are hoping there are enough absentee ballots to help them overcome in-person voting deficits.

“We’d be happy to just open every (absentee ballot) envelope right now and let them be counted,” Sen. Mike Gianaris, a Queens Democrat, said Wednesday on The Capitol Pressroom, when asked about the outstanding, uncounted absentee ballots.

Because of the pandemic, New York made it possible for all voters to get absentee ballots this year, which has resulted in mail votes accounting for a much larger share of ballots than in the past. Democrats have gravitated toward absentee voting in greater numbers than Republicans.

The number of absentee votes and their partisan makeup give Democrats reason to believe they’ll cut the GOP leads in the eight districts where they trail, but it’s not clear whether there will be enough votes to flip the leads in all cases.

For example, based on The Capitol Pressroom’s analysis of in-person voting results and absentee ballot information, Democratic freshman Jen Metzger will need to win more than 70 percent of recently returned absentees to make up her 10,631 deficit from early voting and Election Day. By comparison, Long Island Democratic freshmen Jim Gaughran and Kevin Thomas need to win a little more  62 percent of recently returned absentees to hang on to their seats.

If the Republicans win all the contested seats the Democrats will have a 36-member majority in the chamber, a far cry from the 42-member supermajority they had been hoping for, but still a comfortable lead.

Gianaris is hopeful that they emerge with a majority beyond just 36 members, saying, “The more (members) we have the more authority our leader will have in discussions on legislation.”

Discussing the landscape on Wednesday morning, he said he wasn’t really surprised by the state of races, adding, “How can you be surprised after living through the politics of the last several years?”


The Capitol Pressroom · Size of Democratic state senate majority comes down to absentees
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