Melinda Katz’s sudden 20-vote lead in the Queens DA race means it’s going to be real hot July in Kew Gardens. The razor-thin margin triggers an automatic manual recount.
Of the 3,552 absentee votes counted yesterday, Katz received 1993 (56 percent), five other candidates split 785 (22.1 percent) and Cabán garnered 774 (21.7 percent). That means Katz gained roughly 18 percent while Cabán dropped 17 percent since election night.
Such a large swing raises questions about the sources of the votes. A breakdown of the absentee votes is not yet available, but Katz reportedly did well on Assembly Districts 23–29, which span from the Rockaways through SE Queens to Forest Hills and Flushing, all areas of Katz’s strength.
The Queens Board of Elections tossed almost 2300 of nearly 2800 affidavit votes cast on election day. Veteran election lawyers say that is not an uncommon ratio, given that many voters registered in various parties turn out in a closed primary.
This past January the state legislature passed reforms to the process of voters changing their registration address (as part of a larger package of updated election legislation). The old method, which remains on the Board of Elections (BoE) site, required voters to file a change of address through the Post Office.
The new law, which took effect at the end of March, allows voters to simply show up at the new address and file an affidavit. The Queens DSA and Cabán campaign are actively soliciting stories regarding affidavit votes.
Election lawyer Sarah Steiner says that while counting affidavits in a Harlem district leader race yesterday “the Manhattan BoE was applying the new law, which means that the NYC BoE has adopted it as policy.”
It’s still possible that some affidavits from voters who recently moved to or within Queens were wrongly rejected. While Cabán’s election lawyer Jerry Goldfeder says his team has found a “goodly number” of mistakenly denied ballots, it will be a surprise if the number gives Cabán a substantial lead.
The next stage is the full recount, during which paper ballots not read by machine scanners will be pivotal. Conspicuously absent from the election recount process is any auditing of the voter sign-in books at poll sites. While handwriting analysis is not an exact science, signatures on ballot petitions often show clear patterns of fraud.
Starting next week, Cabán’s team will embark on the long slog through 90k votes. One thing is clear: Her troops will continue to fight until the last ballot is counted.