New Revelations Emerge On Rejected Ballots In Queens DA Race

Theodore Hamm Aug 29, 2019

In early August, with the outcome of the Queens DA primary still up in the air, a group of journalists separately submitted an identical Freedom of Information Law request regarding the rejected affidavit ballots to the Board of Elections (BoE). This week the BoE provided the following info to the Queens Eagle.

Here are the most important numbers.

  • Of the 2,834 affidavit (or provisional) ballots cast on primary day, June 25, the BoE rejected 2,332.
  • 1,661 of the rejections were because the voter was not a registered Democrat. 142 owed to the fact that the voter was either not registered or had registered after the early June deadline. Because New York has closed primaries, and doesn’t have same-day voter registration, none of those 1,803 rejections can be challenged.
  • As previously discussed in The Indypendent, the BoE rejected hundreds because the ballot was cast at the wrong polling site — 230, to be exact. Another 123 affidavits were deemed unacceptable because the form was incomplete. Given that it was a county-wide election, the specific polling site didn’t matter. And since it was the BoE’s own poll workers who erroneously accepted all 353 ballots, the rejections can be contested.
  • The remaining 176 uncounted ballots fall into the categories of “other” or miscellaneous. Presumably this includes incorrect addresses, illegible affidavit forms, etc. It’s safe to assume that Tiffany Cabán’s team reviewed these rejections and found no way to dispute them.

There’s no guarantee that counting the 230-350 ballots would have erased Katz’s 55-vote lead, but that prospect seems quite likely. In Cabán’s five best assembly districts — AD 30 (Sunnyside), AD 34 (Jackson Heights), AD 36 (Astoria), AD 37 (Long Island City-Ridgewood), and AD 39 (Corona) — the BoE didn’t count a combined 105 ballots, citing a wrong polling site 87 times and an incomplete form 18 times. There are 18 assembly districts in Queens, but nearly 40 percent of the total polling site rejections came in Cabán’s five strongholds.

Given that the wrong polling site affidavits were mostly cast by voters who had recently moved, it’s probable that even in Katz’s strongest districts in South East Queens, Cabán would have picked up votes. In general, anyone taking the extra time to cast an affidavit ballot is a more motivated voter and thus in this race, more likely to have been inclined towards the insurgent candidate.

Despite the numbers, Cabán’s lead lawyer Jerry Goldfeder continues to insist that there were no grounds for appealing the rejections, asserting that ballots deemed unacceptable because of wrong polling site may also have had other problems. Presented with the option of going to a federal judge (who can rule that state voting laws are overly restrictive), Goldfeder tells The Indypendent that the Cabán team “didn’t need any court to sort it out.”

The worst-case scenario in a state appeal or federal claim is simply that it’s denied, whereas the best-case is that a court or judge orders votes to be counted. And so Goldfeder’s position is puzzling.