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Ballot Counting Begins Today in Queens DA Race Recount

Melinda Katz and Tiffany Cabán.

July 15, 2019 By Laura Hanrahan

The manual recounting of more than 93,000 ballots in the Queens District Attorney Democratic Primary officially began today, following the conclusion of a days-long ballot sorting process late last week by Board of Elections staffers.

The recount operation, which kicked off on July 9, was automatically triggered by Melinda Katz’s narrow 16-vote lead over Tiffany Cabán after affidavit and absentee ballots were counted on July 3. Until that point, Cabán had held a 1,199 vote lead over Katz.

Last Tuesday, at a BOE facility in Middle Village, staffers began cracking open nearly 800 double-locked blue bins that contained every ballot counted in the race. The staffers then spent the rest of the week tediously sorting ballots into their appropriate election districts.

With the sorting phase complete, staffers began tallying votes at 10 a.m. this morning and will work until 7 p.m. tonight. The counting is reportedly expected to take roughly 15 days, meaning a winner could be declared by the end of the month if staffers continue to work on Saturdays.

The manual recount will allow BOE staff to count votes that may have been missed by the voting machines in the June 25 Democratic primary, such as ballots where voters used a checkmark or circled a candidate’s name rather than coloring in one of the machine-readable bubbles.

Alongside the recount, Cabán and Katz will be meeting in court regarding the validity of 114 specific affidavit ballots.

The legal proceedings arose out of a suit filed by a lawyer for Cabán earlier this month. The 114 ballots in question, which have not yet been counted, each contain errors in the information filled out by the voter and were consequently voided by the BOE. The majority of these ballots—roughly 70—were discounted because the voter did not clearly state their party affiliation.

Lawyers representing Cabán, Katz and the BOE have a court date set for this Wednesday to discuss any relevant issues that may arise from the recount. Ultimately, a ruling will be issued on the disputed ballots after the manual recount concludes, but only if the results are still close enough for the 114 uncounted ballots to have an impact.

The winner of the Democratic Primary is expected to face off against GOP nominee Daniel Kogan in November, where they are favored to win.

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