Things That Matter

After Tiffany Cabán’s Big Win, The Aspiring District Attorney Faces A Recount Nightmare

For months leading up to the Queens District Attorney Democratic primary election, all eyes were on a young defense attorney named Tiffany Cabán. The 31-year-old had no prior experience in politics, even though her job is very political, which meant other veteran candidates had a better shot of winning this election. Cabán’s main opponent was incumbent Melinda Katz.  On the evening of June 25, election day, it looked like Cabán’s hard work and months of campaigning had paid off after she had been declared the winner. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the victorious win that the young Latina, and her supporters, had hoped for. Cabáns opponent, Katz, refused to bow out of the race after she had claimed mail-in votes remained to be counted prompting a push for a recount.

Now, weeks later it looks like Cabán will have to wait to see if she still holds the position.

A judge has declared that all votes in the recent election must be manually counted, now Melinda Katz ahead of Tiffany Cabán by 16 votes.

There has been a lot of back and forth from both camps. Some argue that 114 ballots, others say that only 16 votes separate them, but a judge ruled all must be recounted. The original count, on June 25, which declared a victory for Cabán reported her the Democratic DA candidate after she won by nearly 1,200 votes over Katz, but she contested those numbers. She then took over the lead after 4,000 paper ballots were included.

There’s no doubt that every vote should be counted, and both women adhere to a full recount.

However, there’s no denying this isn’t how Cabán thought it would go after her victory speech on June 25. Back then she told the crowd at her victory party, “We have built the most powerful, the most diverse, the most beautiful coalition that a borough-wide race has ever seen. From formerly incarcerated folks to sex workers to undocumented immigrants to community-based organizations & activists to local & national elected officials.”

Now, the Puerto Rican attorney is being forced to switch feet.  On July 5 she tweeted, “Thanks to our tireless supporters who are pouring their hearts and souls into this campaign. With a full recount coming up, there’s more work to be done. Help us make sure every valid vote is counted!”

The recount is supposed to start today and Cabán wants to ensure that every vote is counted and verified properly.

There’s no doubt that voter fraud exists in this country, but more so than that, election fraud is also possible, which is why Cabán’s team is asking for people to sign up to make sure legal people are present when votes are being counted. “Here is the updated link to sign up to observe the recount on behalf of the Cabán campaign! Please circulate widely to your lawyer friends/legal networks!!!” a Cabán supporter tweeted.

Queens County Democratic Chair Gregory Meeks is trying to ease tensions between both Democratic camps — and their supporters, saying according to a local CBS News affiliate, “We’re here today because we want to support this Democratic process. We want every valid vote counted!”

Cabán certainly had the most buzz out of all six candidates running for Queens DA office.

 

Her campaign was endorsed by several high profile politicians including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Sen. Bernie Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Many cheered her on for policies that would help low-income people of color who have often been the victims of the justice system. She was also praised for a grassroots organization and campaign.

“This campaign started with just four women, sitting around a kitchen table, saying: we have to change the system,” she wrote in one tweet. “So I did what many thought was unthinkable for a 31-year-old Queer Latina public defender whose parents grew up in the Woodside Houses. I decided to run.”

During the Queens Gay Pride parade, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez openly voiced her endorsement of Cabán, which gave her campaign a huge increase in supporters.

“I am so incredibly proud of @CabanForQueens – and EVERY single person who showed up for this election today. No matter how this ends, you all have stunned NY politics tonight,” Rep. Ocasio-Cortez wrote. “When people come together, we can beat big money in elections. People power is no fluke.”

Cabán was also seen as the underdog with a powerful story that would certainly break the mold of the Queen’s DA office. If she indeed wins the race, her victory would be historic for so many reasons. Her campaign statement said it all: “I’m a queer Latina from a working-class family. People like us are exactly who the system is trying to keep down.”

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