There will be no victory parties tonight, or, for that matter, anytime soon for either candidate vying to represent New York’s 40th Senate District. According to the unofficial preliminary tally of election results released Wednesday, Nov. 4, Democratic incumbent Sen. Pete Harckham currently trails his Republican opponent Rob Astorino by about 7,400 votes.
However, county election officials have told each candidate there are still 38,000 absentee ballots outstanding as of Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 4. As a result, the seat is still very much in play.
Mr. Harckham’s campaign is reporting that approximately 20,000 of those absentee ballots are from Democratic registered voters, 7,000 from Republicans, with the more than 8,000 remaining split between unaffiliated and third-party voters. These numbers indicate that voting in District 40 appears to be following the nationwide trend where Democrats are voting disproportionately by mail while Republicans are voting disproportionately in person.
In New York state, local election boards have until Tuesday, Nov. 10, to accept postmarked absentee ballots sent domestically and until Monday, Nov. 16, for overseas and military ballots. This means voters won’t find out the declared winner in District 40 for at least another week or longer.
During a small campaign event on election night, Mr. Harckham reminded his supporters that he won the seat “by a razor thin margin” two years ago, becoming the first Democrat in 100 years to retake District 40.
“I think there is reason to be cautiously optimistic, but this is going to be a long process,” he said. “We knew it would be tough and competitive and close, as it is.”
Speaking to his campaign supporters at an event in Pleasantville, Mr. Astorino tempered expectations despite his current lead.
“We just don’t know. I’d like to say we won, but we just don’t know,” he said. “Let’s hope the numbers hold.”
The race for New York’s 40th Senate District is one of the most high-profile local races in the state and considered one of the few legislative seats that could go Democratic or Republican.
According to the unofficial tally from the Westchester County Board of Elections, as of early morning Nov. 4, Mr. Harckham has 45,881 votes, or 52% of the counted votes, while Mr. Astorino has 42,196 votes, or 48%. In addition, the Putnam County Board of Elections is reporting 9,135 votes for Mr. Harckham, or 34.24%, and Mr. Astorino leading with 17,535, or 65.72% of the vote. In Dutchess County, Mr. Harckham has 3,265 or 35.18 % of the vote, and Mr. Astorino has 6,011 or 64.77% of the vote.
Combining the unofficial totals from all three counties, Mr. Astorino at the moment leads Mr. Harckham by 65,742 votes to 58,281 votes.
Although Republicans outnumber Democrats in active registration in the Putnam and Dutchess portions of District 40, Mr. Harckham managed to win two years ago while losing all but the Westchester portion of the district. Westchester represents 72% of the district in total active voters, state enrollment data show.
According to the state Board of Elections enrollment data for Westchester County, Democrats increased active enrollment from 301,660 to 315,535, and Republicans 124,915 to 125,703. Active unaffiliated independents increased from 142,169 to 151,581. In District 40 specifically, Democrats saw a net gain of 4,426 active registered voters and Republicans had a net gain of 1,634. A breakdown of the registration shows that Democrats still outnumber Republicans in every town within Westchester County, except Somers.