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Queens Chronicle

Queens DA recount begins under heavy scrutiny

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Posted: Monday, July 15, 2019 4:04 pm

The tense recount of more than 90,000 votes cast in the last month’s Queens district attorney’s primary election began Monday morning.

It took only about 20 minutes for the first dispute to break out between observers for the campaigns of insurgent Tiffany Cabán and Borough President Melinda Katz.

A ballot had been marked for Cabán but was disqualified because the voter had also written in the margins of the ballot. 

It was an indication of a how contentious this recount, the largest in modern times for the city’s Board of Elections, promises to become.    

State Sen. Jessica Ramos (D-East Elmhurst), one of several lawmakers who backed Cabán and showed up Monday morning to watch the recount begin, called the ballot review process “this ordeal,” but said she was “hoping for a very positive outcome here.”

More than 700 voting machines used in the last month’s election were opened and the paper ballots removed and sorted last week.

In a half-empty shopping mall in Middle Village, the BOE started the elaborate process of the counting the ballots, election district by election district, by hand.

The last count indicated that Katz led Cabán by just 16 votes, a paper-thin margin that triggered the recount. 

The counting is comprised of a three-step process with several checks along the way.

The raw number of ballots are counted at one table, the votes on each are recorded at a second table, and the results confirmed at a third.

Each table is manned by two employees of the BOE and watched by two observers, one from each campaign.

The count began with the election districts in eastern Queens, the stronghold for Katz. 

The count will work its way across the scounty toward the west, including Astoria, Long Island City and Jackson Heights, the areas that had generally been voting for Cabán.

“I caution all of you to wait until the end of the process,” Cabán’s chief lawyer, Jerry Goldfeder told reporters Monday morning. “Until we have finished all 18 Assembly Districts, we will not know the result.”

After the recount, any remaining disputes, including a seemingly crucial ruling on several hundred affidavit ballots that were not completely filled out, will go before a special judge appointed for this election.

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