Melinda Katz declares victory in Queens district attorney primary after recount

A court battle continues over dozens of invalidated affidavit ballots that Tiffany Cabán’s team argues were wrongly disqualified.

Borough President Melinda Katz declared victory over Tiffany Cabán in the Queens district attorney Democratic primary Thursday after the Board of Elections completed a manual recount. 

“I am so proud that the people of the borough I have served for so many years have given us this victory today,” Katz said in a statement. “I look forward to continuing my work on behalf of the families of Queens, and to beginning the critical work of instituting true criminal justice reform, ensuring fairness and equity, and keeping the people of this borough safe.”       

Katz was leading with about 60 votes, Cabán campaign lawyer Jerry Goldfeder said. The Board of Elections has not officially announced the results of the recount of about 91,000 ballots. Its staff placed the ballot count into a spreadsheet at its facility in Middle Village, Queens, Thursday afternoon, but the results need to be certified.

Cabán, however, said the “race is not over.

“We are going to continue to fight to make sure that every single valid vote is counted,” Cabán said Thursday afternoon, referencing dozens of affidavit ballots her campaign believes were wrongly disqualified. “Our campaign will be in court to make sure the people of Queens are not disenfranchised.”

There were still several ballots that had been set aside during the recount because of stray marks that the lawyers of both campaigns will discuss with the board before the results are certified. A special meeting of Board of Elections commissioners was held Friday to designate a subcommittee responsible for certifying the results, which would happen Monday at the earliest, a BOE spokeswoman said.

Cabán had been in the lead after election night on June 25, but following the count of valid absentee and affidavit ballots, Katz was leading by 16 votes, prompting a manual recount.

The campaigns are currently in a court battle over the contested affidavit ballots, some of which were invalidated because the voters didn’t write the word “Democrat” in the party affiliation field or because voters cast them at the wrong polling sites.

The next court date was scheduled for Aug. 6.

Ultimately the winner of the primary will go on to run in the general election in November to take the seat left open by former District Attorney Richard Brown, who died in May.

Nicole Brown