PORT WASHINGTON, NY — Port Washington voters were lining up Tuesday morning to fill out their ballots for Congress and New York State Legislature. Polls in New York opened at 6 a.m. and will remain open until 9 p.m. on Election Day.
Lines with wait times of about a half-hour were reported Tuesday morning in parts of Port Washington.
Election Day comes after about 100 million votes were cast nationwide before Tuesday as the nation holds a referendum on President Donald Trump and his response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Democratic U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi, a former Glen Cove mayor and Nassau County executive, seeks re-election at the federal level against Republican challenger George A. D. Santos. Bob Cohen and Howard Rabin are also running for the seat on the Working Families and Libertarian parties, respectively.
At the state level, two Legislature seats are up for grabs.
In the race for New York Senate District 7, incumbent Democratic state Sen. Anna Kaplan seeks re-election against Republican challenger Dave Franklin, a former commissioner of the Port Washington Police District.
The election for New York Assembly District 16 features a bout between two relative political newcomers to fill outgoing Democratic Assemblyman Anthony D'Urso's seat. Democrat Gina Sillitti, who has worked for the Nassau County Legislature and Town of North Hempstead, will square off against Republican Ragini Srivastava, owner of a frozen yogurt business who was previously appointed to the Nassau County Comptroller's Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprise Council. Blay Tarnoff is also running on the Libertarian ticket.
Suozzi, Santos Vie For 3rd Congressional District
Suozzi, an attorney and certified public accountant, is a political veteran to say the least. He was first elected to represent the district in 2017, but served as Nassau County executive from 2002 to 2009 and as Glen Cove mayor for seven years before that beginning in 1994.
Suozzi is a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, the chamber's chief tax-writing committee. He also serves on both the Oversight and Tax Policy subcommittees.
Some of his key votes as a congressman include voting in favor of impeaching President Donald Trump, against funding a border wall and limiting illegal immigration, against making it a crime for someone to perform an abortion at 20 weeks, and against Republican legislation to "repeal and replace" the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.
He was ranked 28th most conservative compared to House Democrats by GovTrack.
Santos, of Queens, is a financial professional who wants to take on "a radical regime," according to TheIslandNow.com.
"He has poorly managed his budget," Santos told the news outlet about Suozzi. "I'm the antidote to all the wasteful spending. I don't see why a congressman from Long Island should have to hop on a first-class airplane flight when you could take the train to Washington."
Santos was born in Jackson Heights to Brazilian immigrant parents and studied economics and finance at Baruch College. He has done stints at CitiGroup and Goldman Sachs and most recently led a business development team at LinkBridge Investors.
From 2013 to 2018, he ran a non-profit animal rescue organization called Friends of Pets United.
Santos' campaign platform includes tax cuts for the middle class, supporting charter schools and vocational education, immigration enforcement, tough anti-gang measures, mental health screenings for students, embracing nuclear power as a renewable energy source and protecting the right to bear arms.
"America is under attack," he said in a statement announcing his campaign. "This time the attack is within. It's coming from radical leftists who are trying to destroy our most basic traditions and the very foundations of our Constitutional Republic."
Bob Cohen and Howard Rabin are also on the ballot this year, running on the Working Families Party and Libertarian lines, respectively.
The 3rd congressional district includes parts of eastern Queens, as well as all or parts of Great Neck, Port Washington, Glen Cove, Oyster Bay, Plainview, Hicksville, Bethpage, Old Westbury, Huntington, Northport, Kings Park, Commack and Melville.
Kaplan, Franklin Battle For New York Senate District 7
Kaplan, a Democrat from Great Neck, was born in Iran to a Jewish family. Her parents sent her to the United States for safety during the Islamic Revolution. She arrived in Brooklyn and was sent to live with a foster family in Chicago, where she learned English and completed high school. The U.S. government later granted her political asylum.
After her family reunited, they moved to Queens, where Kaplan graduated from Yeshiva University Stern College for Women, and later Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. She settled in Great Neck with her husband and two daughters. In 2011, Kaplan was elected as Town of North Hempstead councilwoman in District 4. She won election to the state Senate two years ago, defeating then-incumbent Republican Elaine Phillips with 55 percent of the vote. Kaplan became the first political refugee and the first Iranian-American elected to the New York state Senate.
Having lived in Port Washington for over three decades, Franklin served as a police commissioner for the Port Washington Police District from 2011 to 2019. He managed dozens of uniformed officers and a $20 million budget, helped craft policy, negotiated fair contracts with the police union and helped restructure the administration.
Franklin also has private sector experience, working as a technician and engineer for HBO for nearly four decades.
New York Senate District 7 includes parts of Great Neck, Port Washington, Manhasset, Roslyn, Old Westbury, Westbury, Lake Success, Mineola, Floral Park, Elmont, New Cassel, New Hyde Park and Hicksville.
Sillitti, Srivastava, Tarnoff Seek Assembly Seat
After winning election to the Assembly as a Democrat in 2016, D'Urso surprised his district in February, announcing that he would not seek re-election for Assembly District 16. The district serves all or parts of the communities of Port Washington, Manhasset, Great Neck, North Hills, Roslyn Heights, Lake Success and North New Hyde Park.
Following the surprise announcement, Sillitti, of Manorhaven, announced her candidacy to serve as the Democratic nominee for the seat.
The daughter of first-generation Italian-Americans, Sillitti said on her campaign website she learned the value of a good education and importance of chasing dreams from her mother, who enrolled in community college at age 45 following the death of her husband.
Sillitti graduated from the University of Georgia and spent nearly two decades working for the Nassau County Legislature, where she helped secure money for fire departments, schools, and helped residents deal with issues such as pothole repairs and navigating personal tragedies.
In 2010, Sillitti was appointed deputy commissioner of the Department of Community Services for the Town of North Hempstead.
Srivastava, of Manhasset Hills, seeks the Assembly seat after an unsuccessful bid last year for North Hempstead Town Council. Born in India, Srivastava came to the United States 19 years ago as a young woman in search of a better life. She volunteered for domestic abuse survivors and women's advocacy groups, and planned community events such as yoga and mindfulness sessions. Through connections she made, Srivastava launched her own business and was later appointed to the Nassau County Comptroller's Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprise Council.
Tarnoff earned a bachelor's degree in mathematics from Brown University and a Juris Doctorate from Pace University. He has been a computer systems programmer and analyst for four decades and serves as the Libertarian Party's county committee chair.
In what's shaping up to be one of the most anticipated presidential elections in recent memory, incumbent Republican President Donald Trump will try to fend off a tough foe in former Democratic Vice President Joe Biden.
Biden has held a healthy lead in the polls in recent weeks — FiveThirtyEight's website shows Biden has an average of advantage of 10.5 points as of Wednesday, up from 8.2 on Oct. 1. The site notes that polling averages are adjusted based on state and national polls. Candidates' averages can change even if no new polls are added to the calculation.
Historic Early Voting
Nassau County voters turned out early in droves, following a pattern seen nationwide. More than 144,000 absentee ballots were requested by Republicans and Democrats in Nassau, a spokeswoman for the county Board of Elections told Patch on Friday afternoon. About 99,000 of those were requested by registered Democrats and about 45,000 were by registered Republicans
About 93,000 absentee ballots were returned: about 65,000 from registered Democrats and 28,000 from registered Republicans, the Board of Elections said.
Furthermore, about 171,000 people in Nassau voted early, including about 82,000 registered Democrats and 48,800 registered Republicans.
While there was no early voting in 2016, the spokeswoman said, the number of absentee ballots requested and returned in 2020 has been "tremendously larger." In 2016, about 48,000 absentee ballots were cast in all in Nassau County.
How To Vote
There are several ways residents can vote this year: mailing in their ballot, voting early and voting on election day.
Vote-by-mail applications had to be received by the Nassau County clerk by Oct. 27. The ballot itself must be personally delivered to the board of elections no later than the close of polls on Election Day or postmarked by a governmental postal service no later than the day of the election and received no later than the 7th day after the election.
Voting On Election Day
You can find your assigned polling place by visiting the New York State Board of Elections website. For questions about voting in Garden City, contact the Nassau County Board of Elections at 516-571-VOTE (8683).