The beginning of the end: Full recount in Queens district attorney race starts in Middle Village

Photo: Mark Hallum/QNS

The automatic recount in the Democratic primary for Queens district attorney is finally underway, as Board of Elections workers began the tedious process at about 10:15 a.m. on July 9 at their Middle Village facility.

The two top vote-getters in the election – Borough President Melinda Katz and public defender Tiffany Cabán – are separated by just 16 votes, with Katz having taken the lead following last week’s count of paper ballots. She had overcome a 1,100-vote deficit following the June 25 primary vote.

The city Board of Elections expects the full manual recount in Middle Village of over 93,000 ballots to take two to three weeks, with the first day alone being spent simply sorting ballot boxes from reading machines into separate zones.

About 50 people are at work overseeing and executing the meticulous process.

Shortly before the recount began that morning, lawyers for the Katz and Cabán campaigns were in Queens Supreme Court in Jamaica for a hearing on Cabán’s lawsuit seeking to have 114 affidavit ballots counted. A judge adjourned the case until after the recount, determining that a decision shouldn’t be made until there is an authoritative count.

The recount is expected to take into account absentee ballots, affidavits that have been verified, ballots that were read properly by the scanner and those that were improperly filled out but make the voter’s intention clear.

With ballots being similar to Scantron sheets, if a voter does completely fill in the bubble and instead checks or puts an X next to their choice, their vote was not taken into account on June 25.

Cabán’s team filed a lawsuit against the BOE preemptive to the count of absentee ballots on July 3 claiming up to 2,500 affidavits had been unlawfully nixed. The lawsuit aims to redeem 114 of the affidavits, and Cabán’s camp believes they will gain anywhere between 300 and 400 votes from the manual recount.

The votes have been split between seven candidates, with Cabán finishing the primary with 39 percent of the vote to Katz’s 38 percent. Many voters submitted ballots for Councilman Rory Lancman despite him dropping out of the race and backing Katz four days before the primary.

With only about 11 percent of voters turning out, other ballots were cast for Gregory Lasak, Mina Malik, Jose Nieves and Betty Lugo.

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