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Process of Recounting Ballots in Queens DA Race Begins

Tiffany Caban held a 1,090-vote lead over Queens Borough President Melinda Katz on June 26, but now Katz holds a narrow 16-vote lead

What to Know

  • The process of recounting ballots in the seesaw Democratic primary race for Queens district attorney has begun
  • The actual counting of the ballots likely won't start until Thursday, said a Board of Elections spokeswoman
  • Tiffany Caban held a 1,090-vote lead over Queens Borough President Melinda Katz on June 26, but now Katz holds a narrow 16-vote lead

The manual recount in the seesaw Democratic primary race for Queens district attorney started Tuesday with election workers sorting ballots by Assembly District and Election District, a New York City Board of Elections spokeswoman said.

Spokeswoman Valerie Vazquez-Diaz says the actual counting of the ballots likely won't start until Thursday.

Public Defender Tiffany Caban held a 1,090-vote lead over Queens Borough President Melinda Katz on primary night June 26. But Katz overtook Caban after more ballots were counted and now holds a razor-thin 16-vote lead.

Both campaigns say every valid vote must be counted. Ballots will be taken out of all 700 machines that were used in the primary, in which 92,000 votes were cast. The votes will be counted by hand.

"Over the coming days and weeks, we will continue to fight in court and at the Board of Elections to make sure Queens voters are not disenfranchised," Caban campaign spokesman Daniel Lumer said.

Katz spokesman Matthew Rey said, "We have held since the beginning of this process when were behind by 1,100 votes that every valid vote should count and we continue to maintain that position now that we lead by 16 votes."

A Board of Elections source says a small number of votes typically (and mistakenly) fail to get counted by the machine. In a race as close as this, those could stand to be massively important. 

Also on Tuesday, a court hearing on 114 disputed affidavit ballots was adjourned until next week. The ballots were disqualified because voters mistakenly left the party affiliation field blank, and the court will rule if those votes should count.

The race is being watched as a stand-in for the national tug-of-war between establishment and progressive Democratic factions. Katz, a former City Council and state Assembly member and the favorite of moderate Democrats including New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, had been considered the front-runner. Presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders endorsed Caban, a first-time candidate who campaigned on a promise to prosecute and incarcerate fewer people.

The winner will be favored to win the November general election to succeed longtime District Attorney Richard Brown. He died in May at age 86.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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