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Cuomo Calls for Automatic Recounts in Close Elections Across NY State

Democratic Governors Association announces effort focused on voting rights. (Dreamstime/TNS)

ALBANY, N.Y. — Gov. Andrew Cuomo is calling for a recount.

Cuomo pitched legislation Monday as part of his planned 2020 State of the State address that would mandate automatic manual recounts in close elections across the state and lay out a set of standards for conducting the tallies.

Current law does not require vote recounts even in close elections.

“By establishing clear rules mandating when a recount should be triggered and a process for local governments to follow, we’ll boost confidence in the democratic process and take another step toward transforming our electoral system into a model for the rest of the nation to follow,” Cuomo said.

Twenty states and the District of Columbia already provide for automatic recounts, which are conducted if the margin between the top two candidates is within certain parameters.

Under New York City Board of Elections policy, a recount is mandatory when the victory margin is under 0.5 percentage points, which triggered a recount this summer that saw Melinda Katz topple Tiffany Caban in the Queens district attorney race.

Cuomo said a majority of county board of elections offices do not have specific requirements regarding recounts.

“Elections are the foundation of our democracy, and there can’t be any confusion when it comes to their outcomes — otherwise people lose faith in the process,” he said. “Right now decisions about whether to proceed with recounts in closely contested races almost always get bogged down in costly and unnecessary litigation because there’s a hodgepodge of standards around the state.”

While recanvasses — reviews of voting machine results to compare them to the numbers recorded on canvass returns — are fairly common, full hand recounts usually only stem from audits or legal challenges.

Cuomo’s proposal would make recounts mandatory in statewide races in which the margin of victory for a candidate or ballot proposition is 0.2 percentage points or less. All other elections would have to be closer than 0.5% for a recount.

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