In over two weeks, Queens has had two district attorney candidates declare themselves the Democratic nominee of the highest law enforcement agency in the borough triggering a recount of approximately 90,000 ballots and affidavits and a Supreme Court lawsuit on Tuesday in Jamaica.
Tiffany Cabán, a former public defender, filed the lawsuit just days after her virtual election victory on June 25th to ensure that all of the affidavits and military ballots were counted correctly out of fear that election monitors at the Board of Elections won’t engage in voter suppression.
“This week, the Cabán campaign will be in court and at the Board of Elections to make sure that every valid vote is counted,” said Cabán spokeswoman Monica Klein.
Before the affidavits and military ballots were counted, Cabán had a 1.3 percent or 1,090 ballot lead on Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, who is backed by the borough’s Democratic Organization.
Last week, the tally of the affidavits and military ballots has led to Katz edging out Cabán with 16 votes, according to the borough president’s campaign team.
Despite both women declaring themselves the victor, the election was too close for the Board of Elections to call an official winner of a race that may very well continue to drag on for days or possibly weeks.
Cabán’s team has claimed that the calculation of the unscanned votes is problematic because the commissioner of the Board of Elections is selected by the Queens County Democratic Party and so to is the county judges, one of which may cancel or reschedule tomorrow’s 9:30 a.m. hearing at 88-11 Sutphin Blvd., according to the public defender’s team.
Somewhere between 2,000 to 3,000 affidavits were thrown out because of late registration, late re-registration or missing information, but of that number only 114 remain in dispute for tomorrow’s court proceedings.
“The Cabán campaign will try to do everything in their power to manipulate the vote totals in their favor,” said Matthew Rey, Katz spokesman. “First, they declared victory before thousands of paper votes were counted, then they wanted to cherry-pick 20 ballots to be counted from their supporters.”
The Board of Elections has said on its website that it has does everything in its power to be “meticulous,” that both campaigns teams were invited to watch the tabulation and that at the end of the day the election night results were “preliminary.”
“More than 100 affidavit ballots from registered and eligible Democrats were wrongly invalidated by the BOE – and we will be in Court Tuesday morning to make sure these voters are not disenfranchised. We will also be closely monitoring the hand recount, which could yield hundreds of new votes improperly read by machine scanners,” said Klein. “When every valid vote is counted, we are confident that we will win.”
Katz’s team has found the accusations of any wrongdoing to be ludicrous.
“It is the height of irresponsibility for a candidate for District Attorney to make outrageous, wrongheaded claims out of thin air. Our goal at the beginning of this week was to count every valid vote, and our goal remains to count every valid vote. Our values were consistent when we were behind, and now that we have the lead, remain the same,” said Rey.
What could change the tide are new election laws that were co-sponsored by state Sen. Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans).
If the pending legislation that was cleared by the Assembly and the Senate gets presented and signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, hundreds of votes could potentially go back in play, according to Cabán’s team.
Katz, nevertheless, remains steadfast that the votes will be her favor.
“[Cabán’s] supporters are making false claims about Melinda and this process to try to discredit results which aren’t in her favor,” said Rey. “Queens deserves better, and we expect to maintain our lead throughout the coming weeks as all valid votes are recounted.”