Update: Bishop’s lead widens in congressional race

Randy Altschuler and Congressman Tim Bishop

Democratic Congressman Tim Bishop has taken an even larger lead — by 206 votes — over his Republican challenger Randy Altschuler as absentee ballots continue to be counted, a spokesman for Mr. Bishop said Monday evening.

Mr. Altschuler had led by 383 votes after Election Day, but Mr. Bishop went ahead by 15 votes on Friday afternoon. In all about 11,500 absentee ballots were cast in New York’s 1st Congressional District race.

As of the close of the work day Monday, counting had wrapped up in Smithtown, Southold, East Hampton, Southampton, Riverhead and Shelter Island, and 169 election districts in Brookhaven, leaving ballots from 125 districts.  In total, 9,200 ballots have been reviewed, leaving 1,912 ballots remaining, said Mr. Bishop’s spokesman, Jon Schneider.

Mr. Schneider also pointed out that the Republican side has been much more aggressive in challenging ballots — 95 percent of which, according to Mr. Schneider, typically do not get overturned. As of the close of day Friday Mr. Altschuler’s camp had challenged 337 more votes than did Mr. Bishop’s, Mr. Schneider said in a statement.

But Rob Ryan, Mr. Altschuler’s campaign spokesman, has repeatedly taken exception to that assessment.

“The challenges made by the Altschuler campaign are made on residency requirements as outlined by state law; we expect them to hold up,” he said Saturday. “Bishop, on the other hand has challenged the ballots of active duty military personnel and Election Inspectors who were working on Election  Day in other areas of the county and were unable to cast their vote by machine..They are trying to disenfranchise legitimate voters and that’s wrong.”

The counting of absentee and affidavit ballots began on Tuesday, Nov. 16.

County Board of Election officials will not provide figures until the count is complete.

Neither the Republican or Democratic side seemed to expect military ballots, which have until Nov. 24 to arrive by mail, to affect the election’s outcome. “There’s no major military installations in the district,” Mr. Ryan said. “I don’t think it’s going to be a comparatively huge number [of ballots].”

He did say that military ballots typically lean Republican.

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