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Town Board seat might not be decided Tuesday night

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COURTESY ART

Islanders may know Tuesday night who will be moving into the White House January 20, but they may not know who will be filling a Town Board seat for the next year.
That’s because 468 residents applied for absentee ballots — the most by far in recent years — and those may not be counted for a week or more.

Of those who applied to vote absentee , 231 are registered Democrats; 105 are registered Republicans; and the balance didn’t list party affiliation, according to Suffolk County Board of Elections Commissioner Nick LaLota.

But he cautioned against assuming that people will cast their ballots by party affiliation.

“I wouldn’t extrapolate too much,” he said.

Local GOP chairman Bob DeStefano Jr. thinks it’s “very likely” there won’t be an official result Tuesday night because of the number of absentee ballots. At the same time, he’s anticipating that there could be as many as 1,500 people voting in person.

“Shelter Island is very unpredictable,” Mr. DeStefano said, because, he added, voters know the people running and don’t necessarily vote along party lines.

However, the absentee ballots often do come in along party lines, he said. That would favor Ms. Dudley getting a majority of those, but whether that would put her over the top depends on what the spread is locally.

“It’ll be a heavy turnout,” Democratic Chairwoman Heather Reylek said. But she believes the absentee votes will be a reflection of Tuesday night’s raw vote at the polls.

She’s not ready to speculate about whether or not a result will be evident Tuesday night.

“We’ll just have to wait,” she said.

In 2011, there was a lengthy election process before Jim Dougherty emerged as supervisor, winning over Glenn Waddington, who on election night had looked like the presumptive victor.

That year, not only were there 308 absentee ballots that had to be counted, but there were recounts that didn’t settle the issue until late November.

There were also three candidates seeking the supervisor’s post in 2011. Mr. Dougherty was the incumbent seeking another term as a Democrat. Bob DeStefano was the Republican’s choice and Mr. Waddington held the Conservative Party line.

On election night, Mr. Waddington appeared the victor with 549 machine votes to Mr. Dougherty’s 488 and Mr. DeStefano’s 221.

While there was only a 61-vote margin between the two top finishers, Mr. Waddington’s backers thought that margin would stand up because in machine voting, Mr. Dougherty had lost every district on the Island except District One that covered Hay Beach and Ram Island. In addition, few Island supervisors had won three successive terms.

Former Republican town chairman Wayne Bourne said that election night he had seen only one case where absentee ballots turned results around and that was when Alfred Kilb had won the election against incumbent Art Williams in 2005 by 15 votes.

The only safe prediction locally is that Shelter Island Justice Court Judge Helen Rosenblum will be re-elected. She’s running unopposed and is cross-endorsed by Democratic, Republican and Conservative parties.

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