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Election 2020: Thousands Of Absentee Ballots Just Starting To Be Counted Could Decide Close Races Across New York

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The voters have spoken, but their verdicts remain unknown in a significant number of races in New York.

From seats in Congress to the make-up of the State Senate, it's coming down to the painstaking work of counting absentee ballots, CBS2's Tony Aiello reported Monday.

In the the drab recesses of the Westchester Board of Elections, the vital work of democracy is done one absentee ballot at a time.

"Every legal ballot will count, that gets in here in a timely fashion, will count," said Westchester Election Commissioner Reginald Lafayette.

Absentees are literally stamped with the word, "timely," as they are sorted and verified.

Aiello saw one absentee ballot was set aside. A double-check found the person who mailed it in also voted in-person. Their absentee vote won't count.

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The size of the job in 2020 is absolutely unprecedented. 103,000 absentee ballots in Westchester this year, versus 30,000 four years ago.

Absentees will decide many contests, including heated state senate races in New York City, Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester.

Early and Election Day votes gave Rob Astorino an 8,000 vote lead over Sen. Peter Harckham. That could easily change as absentees and affidavits are counted.

"Literally, we may not know until Thanksgiving which, you know, all day all I hear is Carly Simon's 'Anticipation,' and then when that finally gets out of my head, I hear Tom Petty's 'The Waiting Game.' So, it's like, you know, we all go crazy right now," Astorino said.

MORE: Election 2020: New York City Begins Counting Mail-In Ballots Monday

New York's most powerful woman know that all too well. In 2004, absentees wiped out Andrew Stewart-Cousins' lead. She lost her first state senate race by 18 votes.

Stewart-Cousins told Aiello that accepting the loss with dignity helped her win two years later.

"When people see that you're not in a frenzy, that you're not screaming at your opponent, you're not tearing down the Board of Elections, it makes a difference because, at some point, it talks about your character," she said.

Absentee ballots will also settle the 3rd Congressional District race. Republican George Santos has a razor thin lead over Congressman Tom Suozzi with more than 70,000 absentee ballots to be counted.

Democrats and republicans jointly supervise the process, working together so the will of the voters is honored.


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