Queens district attorney primary recount proceedings underway

New York City Board of Elections workers on Tuesday began sorting ballots to prepare for the manual recount in the Democratic primary for Queens County district attorney.

Borough President Melinda Katz's 16-vote lead over public defender Tiffany Caban triggered the recount, which is expected to start in the next two days and take up to two weeks to complete.

Just before the preparations began, the lawyers for both sides appeared before Judge John Ingram at Queens County Supreme Court. But instead of hearing of last-minute legal wrangling, the judge said he was pleased both sides seemed to agree on the way forward.

"We're going to count every ballot, we're going to make sure that every eligible voter, every enrolled Democrat who lives in Queens and is dutifully registered to vote, that their ballots count," Caban campaign lawyer Jerry Goldfeder told reporters after the hearing.

Rep. Gregory Meeks, the Queens County Democratic Party chair, is backing Katz, who erased Caban's election night lead after the absentee ballots came in.

"When Melinda Katz was behind, I came out immediately and said we wanted every valid vote counted," he said. "And now that she's ahead, we want every valid vote counted."

One potential flashpoint: 114 unopened affidavit ballots that had been disqualified because the voters didn't indicate they were Democrats and may not get counted in the recount.

"If that vote is sufficiently close, we will ask the court to open up all the erroneously invalidated affidavit ballots," Goldfeder said.

The recount heightens the drama in the race that's gained national attention.

Caban, a progressive aligned with Queens Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, has been endorsed by presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

Katz has the support of the local Queens Democratic establishment.

"For some people who want to come from the outside to tell us what to do in Queens County, you come to Queens County and talk to the people of Queens County first," Meeks said.

While lawyers for each side seemed to be on the same side when they told the judge they wanted every Democratic vote counted, the recount set to begin in a couple of days may complicate matters. So the lawyers will be back for a status conference on July 17.