The court case to validate 114 ballots that were dismissed during the Queens District Attorney’s election kicked off Wednesday and has developed into a tug of war between Borough President Melinda Katz and public defender Tiffany Cabán.
“After shouting from the rooftops for months that every vote should count, they are now moving to disqualify 22 votes cast for Melinda Katz,” said Katz. “Their efforts are akin to throwing spaghetti at a wall and hoping something sticks. They are making phone calls fishing for Cabán voters to complain their votes weren’t counted.”
Cabán’s team claims that 21 votes that were counted in favor of Katz contain distinguishing marks on the ballot and members of the Board of Elections shouldn’t have counted them, while another 21 votes that were cast for her were erroneously thrown about because of a stray mark. The public defender does believe that at least 16 votes that were invalidated were cast for her opponent.
“Both the interests of democracy and legal precedent demand that these invalidated affidavit ballots and Cabán votes be counted,” said Jerry Goldfeder, Caban’s lawyer.
Katz, however, believes that the public defender is cherry-picking votes that were dismissed to supplant her as the Democratic nominee for the DA’s office.
“Their initial claim that 2,000 ballots were improperly invalidated first dwindled to 114, and today dwindled again to 47. And they still haven’t identified these voters – they are asking the Board of Elections to act as their private investigators to help them find them,” said Katz.
Cabán’s team said it was misinformed by the BOE about the number of votes that were dismissed because of party affiliation. Initially, they were told 114 votes were invalidated because of that, but that has been corrected to at least 68 ballots. Her team also argued that 22 affidavits were rejected for being at the wrong polling site.
Cabán’s team also believes another 12 were disregarded because the BOE mistook registered voters as unregistered.
“Our campaign is seeking to restore affidavit ballots and Caban votes that were wrongly invalidated by the Board of Elections. 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,” said Goldfeder.
Katz finds the lawsuit to be disruptive to the election system.
“The Cabán camp is doing everything they can to turn the electoral process upside down to change the results of the primary,” said the borough president. “All of this comes after the fact, as the Board of Elections certified the results of the election on Monday.”
The BOE certified Katz as the Democratic nominee for the Queens District Attorney’s Office on July 29th following a recount. After nearly two weeks of manually tabulating approximately 90,000 ballots, the borough president pulled ahead of Cabán with 60 votes.
The certification came roughly one month after Cabán declared herself the victor on election night on June 25th after she initially surpassed Katz with 1,090 ballots from 99 percent of the counted precincts.
“If all valid ballots cast by eligible and registered voters are counted, as they should be under the law, then Tiffany Cabán will ultimately emerge as the Democratic nominee for District Attorney,” said Goldfeder.