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  • Writer's pictureNew York City Republicans


Marko Kepi poses with campaign supporter Billy Qoku at his Dongan Hills headquarters. June 23, 2020. (Staten Island Advance/Jason Paderon)

The race was too close to call for one of the Island’s closest primary races between Republicans Attorney Michael Tannousis former Brooklyn political operative Marko Kepi, both vying for Malliotakis’ soon to be vacant assembly seat.

By the end of the night, Tannousis led Kepi by more than 1,000 votes, according to unofficial election results, but Kepi claimed 2,600 absentee ballots would still need to be counted.

Republican Party Chairman Brendan Lantry dubbed Tannousis the apparent victor but said he would wait for paper ballots to be counted.

“We all see the same numbers, there are not 2,600 absentee ballots outstanding,” Lantry said. “Just last year, Staten Island saw a razor-thin election for Civil Court judge which went down to the paper ballots. Tonight, it is clear that Michael Tannousis has won in the live votes that were cast today and during early voting. We’re going to let the process of counting the absentee ballots begin, but it is apparent that Michael Tannousis has won the Republican nomination.”

Kepi said he was confident he would prevail.

“With over 2,600 votes yet to be counted, we believe the race is too close to call and that every vote must be counted,” Kepi said. “In the end, we believe we will be victorious because of the hard work our volunteers put in reaching out to the voters affected by the covid-19 epidemic. This is an unprecedented situation and we look forward to victory in this race and a united party in November.”


In New York City, absentee ballots will not be counted for a week and will have to be counted manually.

By the end of last week, the state issued 28,926 absentee ballots to Richmond County voters.

Board of Elections Chief Michael Ryan said during a commissioners’ meeting last week that the normal validation process will still be in place for absentee ballots and that the speed of the results will rely on how many challenges are made to the ballots.

New York State Board of Elections spokesman John Conklin said it will be difficult to determine the clear victors of all the races by Tuesday night.

“I don’t expect to know any winners tonight,” Conklin said Tuesday. " A large unknown percentage of the turnout is in absentee ballots so predicting winners would be foolhardy. We will post results on our website tonight but it will only be for machine totals for today and early voting.”

On Tuesday, polling site staff and voters had to follow new safety procedures amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Social distancing markers were placed on the ground at polling sites and staffers and voters were required to wear face-coverings.

Turnout was strong at polling sites the Advance visited Tuesday morning and the paper was alerted to a couple of issues at the polls.

Port Richmond resident Jasi Robinson, said she and her mother had difficulty getting into the Port Richmond Library to vote at 6 a.m. because cops did not show up to open voting machines and scanners.

Kepi Supporters watch for results at his campaign headquarters in Dongan Hills. June 23, 2020. (Staten Island Advance/Jason Paderon)

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