July 31, 2019 By Allie Griffin
The Queens District Attorney Democratic Primary race went to court today with Tiffany Cabán’s campaign seeking to revalidate votes deemed invalid for counting by the Board of Elections and Melinda Katz’s campaign fighting back.
On Monday, the BOE certified the recount, naming Borough President Katz victorious over Cabán with a 60-vote lead. While Katz held an “appreciation” party that night, the certification allowed Cabán’s team to return to court to contest the invalidated ballots.
Cabán’s attorney Jerry Goldfeder said the Board invalidated a total of 30 votes for Cabán and 16 for Katz during the manual recount — 21 of those cast for Cabán were wrongly invalidated he argued in court. In addition, Goldfeder asked the court to restore a number of affidavit ballots which he said were cast by eligible and registered voters.
“The Board of Elections and the Katz campaign are standing together to oppose our efforts to open and count ballots cast by eligible and registered voters,” Goldfeder charged. “Both the interests of democracy and legal precedent demand that these invalidated affidavit ballots and Caban votes be counted.”
He went on to argue that if “all valid ballots cast by eligible and registered voters” are counted, Cabán would take back the lead from Katz and win the election.
Meanwhile, the Katz camp said Cabán and her team’s efforts were in vain. “Their efforts are akin to throwing spaghetti at a wall and hoping something sticks,” said Campaign advisor Matthew Rey.
“The Cabán camp is doing everything they can to turn the electoral process upside down to change the results of the primary,” Rey said.
The ballots the Cabán campaign is contesting include at least 68 affidavit ballots invalidated due to missing party affiliation, 22 affidavit ballots invalidated due to wrong polling sites, and 12 ballots cast by registered voters in which the BOE determined that the voter in question was not registered and invalidated, according to Goldfeder.
Goldfeder said 21 invalidated Cabán votes should be counted, while 21 Katz votes should be invalidated. The argument of whether any of each contender’s votes should or shouldn’t be counted lays in whether they have “intentional, distinguishing marks” that would invalidate them.
In response Rey said, “After shouting from the rooftops for months that every vote should count, they are now moving to disqualify 22 votes cast for Melinda Katz.”
The primary was held on June 25 with Cabán originally leading Katz by more than 1,199 votes, until affidavit and absentee ballots were counted, putting Katz ahead by a mere 16 votes. The small margin called for a manual recount in which more than 90,000 ballots were sorted and recounted. At its completion, Katz led Cabán by 34,920 votes to Cabán’s 34,860.
“This continuing effort to change the election results is trying the patience of the people of this borough,” Rey said. “It is time for all parties to unify behind the work of Melinda Katz to reform the criminal justice system in Queens.”