Queens DA recount resumes with eight percent of votes tallied

Board of Elections officials and campaign volunteers review ballots in the Democratic primary for Queens DA manual recount.  Eagle  photos by David Brand

Board of Elections officials and campaign volunteers review ballots in the Democratic primary for Queens DA manual recount. Eagle photos by David Brand

By David Brand

The Queens DA recount resumed Tuesday as Board of Elections officials completed counts in four Assembly Districts where Borough President Melinda Katz dominated the vote. Katz was leading public defender Tiffany Cabán by just 16 votes ahead of the manual, countywide recount.

The counts for each Assembly District — 23 through 26 — were divided into three tables: one for making sure ballots were appropriately sorted by electoral district, one to tally the votes and another to double check that tally. Volunteer monitors from each campaign sat at the 12 tables, logging the electoral district vote totals on sheets and handing their counts to election attorneys and other campaign officials who paced the room checking ballots and monitoring the monitors.

The BOE went through 7,300 of the roughly 91,000 ballots cast in the Democratic primary for Queens DA on Monday, the first day of the manual recount to determine the winner of the June 25 election. 

“We’re hoping for more [today],” said BOE spokesperson Valerie Vazquez. “But we’ll see.”

Ballot challenges delay the process as attorneys from both camps dispute markings or attempt to determine intent, Vazquez said. The few disputes that occurred Tuesday morning were cordial.

One ballot had the bubble next to Katz’s name filled in, as well as the bubble next to the write-in line. But there was no name written on the write-in line, so after the Cabán team reviewed it, they decided not to challenge the Katz vote.

About 20 minutes later, the attorneys and BOE officials reconvened to consider a ballot where a voter made a mark similar to a music note inside the bubble next to Cabán’s name. The vote counted for Cabán.

Assemblymember Michael DenDekker (seated, left) monitored the vote count for Melinda Katz’s campaign.

Assemblymember Michael DenDekker (seated, left) monitored the vote count for Melinda Katz’s campaign.

BOE officials and campaign monitors also considered “stray marks” on a few ballots — simple squiggles or small lines at the top of the ballot form.

Assemblymember Michael DenDekker sat at one sorting table, monitoring the ballots in Assembly District 24 on behalf of the Katz campaign. DenDekker represents AD 34, which includes Jackson Heights. 

Katz’s attorney Michael Reich, a spokesperson for the Queens County Democratic Party, said he was not sure whether other elected officials would show up to monitor ballots.