A high-stakes special election is underway to fill George Santos's House seat. Here's why it matters beyond New York.

Despite a winter storm barreling through the Northeast, polling places are open Tuesday in New York’s Third Congressional District to decide a high-stakes special election. Voters will decide who will replace disgraced former Republican Rep. George Santos. Here’s why the special election is happening and why it matters beyond New York.

🗳️Why there’s a special election

Santos was kicked out of the House of Representatives last December in a bipartisan vote following the release of a report from the House Ethics Committee that found there was “substantial evidence” he had violated campaign finance laws. Santos became the sixth House member ever to be expelled.

NY-03 includes the Long Island suburbs and a small portion of Queens. Voters will decide Tuesday who will fill Santos’s seat to complete the 11 months remaining in his term.

🫏🐘Who’s running to replace Santos

Democrat Tom Suozzi and Republican Mazi Pilip are vying for Santos’s seat.

Suozzi has the benefit of name recognition since he previously represented NY-03 for six years. He gave up his seat when he ran for governor, but lost to Kathy Hochul, in 2022.

Pilip is a county lawmaker and Ethiopian immigrant who migrated to Israel when she was 12. She served in the Israel Defense Forces before moving to the U.S. While a registered Democrat, she was elected to the Nassau County Legislature as a Republican.

Recent polls have shown Suozzi with a slight lead over Pilip in the runoff, but both candidates are likely to face off again this year in November since they have both committed to run for full congressional terms.

🇺🇸Why the special election is a big deal

Republicans currently hold a very slim majority over Democrats in the House (219-216). If Pilip wins, that would give the GOP a bit more wiggle room on key votes.

Last week, for example, House Republicans fell one vote short of being able to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

If Suozzi flips the seat, House Democrats would gain even greater leverage and could force Republicans to work across the aisle in order to pass legislation.

On a national level, NY-03 could be an early indicator of how Republican and Democratic messages are being received by voters.

✅When we can expect to see a winner

Polls close at 9 p.m. ET on Tuesday. Looking back at the 2022 general election, the Associated Press first started reporting results a few minutes after polls closed. The election night tabulation ended after 1:30 the next morning, with about 94% of the vote counted. So it’s possible we’ll know the winner overnight into Wednesday morning.

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