Manual recount underway in Queens DA race
by Benjamin Fang
Jul 17, 2019 | 3571 views | 0 0 comments | 194 194 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer and state senators Michal Gianaris and Jessica Ramos with Caban campaign attorney Jerry Goldfeder.
Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer and state senators Michal Gianaris and Jessica Ramos with Caban campaign attorney Jerry Goldfeder.
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The Democratic primary for Queens district attorney has come down to a manual recount and subsequent court proceedings on invalidated ballots.

On Monday, the recount process of 90,568 ballots began inside a Board of Elections facility in Middle Village. Attorneys from the campaigns of Melinda Katz and Tiffany Caban observed the counting throughout the process.

All ballots deemed valid by the Board of Elections, including 3,545 absentee ballots and 482 affidavit ballots, were included in the recount.

The process is expected to last a few weeks. The recount runs each weekday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and possibly Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“The recount process is by nature a slow and meticulous one, with multiple checks and balances,” said Matthew Rey, an adviser to the Katz campaign, in a statement. “It must run its course until every legally valid vote is counted.”

The BOE will also individually review 359 ballots that were not picked up by the scanner because the oval on the ballot was not filled in correctly.

Officials will determine the intention of the voter on each ballot, such as putting an “X” or checking the oval next to a candidate’s name. Any of those validated votes will then be added to the final tally.

“We will look at the intent of the voter,” said Jerry Goldfeder, attorney for the Caban campaign. “If it’s clear what the voter intended on the ballot, they will be counted.”

Goldfeder noted that ballots with “stray marks,” such as putting in a smiley face or writing words on the ballot, will not be counted.

All of the ballots, whether scanned on Election Day, absentee or affidavit, are sorted into their individual election district. There are 1,313 active election districts divided into 18 assembly districts in Queens.

Starting with the 23rd Assembly District, the BOE will count four assembly districts simultaneously throughout the recount process. When one AD is finished, the BOE workers will move onto the next sequential district until the 40th AD.

“Until we finish all 18 assembly districts, we will not know the result,” Goldfeder said.

Each campaign can object to how an individual ballot is ruled, which will be reconciled later in the process.

“The Board of Elections people have been working diligently,” Goldfeder said, “and I believe will render a decision that is fair.”

After the recount process, a Queens Supreme Court judge will determine the validity of 114 affidavit ballots that were initially invalidated.

Goldfeder said those were “erroneously invalidated” because the voter did not indicate that they were registered Democrats, or they were directed to the wrong polling site.

According to reports, some 2,000 affidavit ballots and 1,700 absentee ballots were invalidated for those reasons. They were not counted in the manual recount process.

Goldfeder added that he believes at the end of the recount and court ruling, his team will emerge victorious.

Despite declaring victory on the night of the primary with a lead of more than 1,000 votes, Caban fell behind Katz by 16 votes after counting paper ballots.

“We are confident that at the end of this process, Tiffany Caban will be our district attorney,” Goldfeder said.
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