Absentee votes give Democrats edge in county Legislature

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Democrats late Tuesday appeared in position to claim a majority in the Monroe County Legislature, after absentee and affidavit ballots were counted. 

Unofficial results on Election Day showed the Republicans picking up two seats but losing the one held by Legislature President Joe Carbone. But the margins in that race and two others were close enough that the absentee ballots could prove decisive—and in each contest, the Democratic candidate led Tuesday after the remaining ballots were counted. The results still are unofficial.

If the Democrats gain the majority, it would mark the first time in roughly three decades that the Republicans did not control the Legislature. However, one of the victorious Democrats—Sabrina Lamar in the 27th District—has been a member of the breakaway Black and Asian Democratic Caucus, which could make a one-seat Democratic majority particularly tenuous.

On Election Night, Carbone and Democratic challenger Dave Long in the 16th District were separated by only 47 votes, with Long holding the edge. In the tally of absentee ballots, Long’s advantage grew by 126 votes.

In the 13th District, incumbent Democrat Michael Yudelson trailed Republican challenger Matt Borkowski in the Election Day count by a margin of 158 votes. But Yudelson’s edge in absentee ballots was 258, more than enough to turn the result in his favor.

The story was the same in the 26th District, where Democratic lawmaker Yversha Roman—who trailed the GOP’s Orlando Rivera by fewer than 100 votes—had a 129-vote advantage in the absentee ballot count.

Registered Democrats have outnumbered Republicans since 2003, and their enrollment edge has grown to nearly 80,000 voters countywide. But until now, the party has not been able to translate that advantage into control of the county Legislature, where the GOP majority was cut in 2019 but Republicans retained a one-seat edge.  

This year, seven of the 29 seats were uncontested and more than half of the remaining districts strongly favored the incumbent lawmakers, so the contest to control the Legislature came down to only a few races. 

Paul Ericson is Rochester Beacon executive editor. Interactive map created by Jacob Schermerhorn, a former Rochester Beacon intern and graduate student at the City University of New York.

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