New tally flips results of Queens DA race, forcing recount

A primary for Queens district attorney that was already receiving national attention as a proxy for the national fight between different Democratic factions is taking another turn, with a tally of paper ballots reversing the initial results and the close margin forcing an automatic recount.

Queens Borough President Melinda Katz now has a 20-vote edge over political newcomer Tiffany Caban, who had held a 1,090-vote lead with 99 percent of precincts reporting on primary night last week.

Lawyers for both candidates will argue before the Board of Elections Friday why certain affidavit ballots should or shouldn’t be counted. 

An ‘affidavit ballot’ is a paper ballot used when a voter shows up to a polling place, but their name isn’t listed. Those people still get to vote on a different paper ballot.

Later, the Board of Elections is expected to review the affidavit ballots and throw out any they deem invalid.

Of the roughly 2,800 affidavit ballots cast in this race, just 487 were counted.

Caban’s team was suggesting those disqualified ballots held the key to her victory.

Katz is the favorite of the state's Democratic Party establishment. Caban is a public defender who says the criminal justice system is rigged against the poor and was backed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Caban had declared victory on primary night, while Katz called for every vote to be counted. The updated results reversed those stances as well.

"I am proud to have been chosen as the Democratic nominee for Queens District Attorney," Katz said in a statement. "We know that these numbers can and will be subject to recount, and there may be legal challenges, but what matters most is the will of Queens voters."

Caban's supporters said they were confident she would win, and said the tally should include some paper ballots that had been invalidated.

"Queens voters are inspired by Tiffany Caban's campaign and her vision for real criminal justice reform. If every valid paper ballot vote is counted, we are confident we will prevail," said Caban campaign spokeswoman Monica Klein.

If Katz emerges victorious, it will suggest that a moderate and traditional political path remains in place. The recount will be done manually and is set to start on Monday.

The winner will be favored to win the November general election to succeed longtime District Attorney Richard Brown. He died in May at age 86.

With the Associated Press