In light of DA race, pass voting reforms
Aug 14, 2019 | 1042 views | 0 0 comments | 88 88 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The recount and court battle to decide the winner in the race for Queens district attorney shed light on the need for voting reforms in New York.

Six weeks after the Democratic primary, Melinda Katz emerged victorious by a slim 55 votes over Tiffany Caban, who conceded at a party thanking supporters and volunteers.

It was a complete turnaround from the day of the election, when Caban appeared to win by more than 1,000 votes. But after counting affidavit and absentee ballots, Katz went ahead by 16 votes, and expanded her lead to 60 votes after the recount.

“The one message I would bring to every single person in the city is that every single vote counts,” Katz said after her victory. “If there was ever a lesson to show that, this was it.”

Caban’s campaign lawyers went to court in an attempt to restore dozens of affidavit ballots that were invalidated for technical errors. They also tried to convince a judge to unseal dozens of unopened ballots that were also thrown out because the voters didn’t identify their political party.

In the end, the judge ruled against opening those ballots, a blow that ended Caban’s insurgent run.

At her party, Caban called for action to fix the “serious flaws” in the election system that “the last six weeks have exposed.”

Hopefully, help is on the way. A bill that makes it harder to disqualify affidavit ballots was passed by the State Legislature, and is now awaiting a signature by Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Caban supporters had hoped the governor would sign the bill during the recount process, but it was wise to wait until after the election.

Now there’s no excuse for Cuomo. He must sign the legislation to ensure more voters have their voices heard, regardless of minor errors when filling out a form.

In November, New York City will have another chance to improve the voting process. The city’s Charter Commission voted in June to recommend ranked-choice voting for all primary and special elections for city offices.

In a ranked choice voting system, if a candidate doesn’t receive at least 50 percent of the vote, the candidate with the fewest votes is dropped from the ballot.

People who voted for the candidate now go to their second choice, and the candidate gets their vote. The process repeats until a candidate has a simple majority.

Most good government and election reform groups have given their blessing to ranked-choice voting. Perhaps it’s time for the residents of New York City to support it as well come November.
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