Yesterday, Newsday reported that Nassau County DA and NY Attorney General candidate Kathleen Rice has only voted eight times since first registering to vote in 1984: "Rice, who faces four challengers in a Sept. 14 primary contest for the Democratic nomination, cast the first vote of her life in November 2002. All told through 2009, she voted in eight of the 26 years since she first registered to vote as a Republican in 1984." Rice explained, "It was my mistake. During that period of my life, I did not vote. Unfortunately, like a lot of young adults early in their professional lives, I failed to see the political significance of casting a ballot."
Rice is considered the frontrunner in the field, what with the largest campaign fund and the behind-the-scenes support of current AG and Democratic gubernatorial nominee Andrew Cuomo. Newsday also look at the available voting records of her four Democratic rivals as well as Republican nominee Daniel Donovan (the current Staten Island DA)—you can see the findings after the jump—and most other candidates appear to have some gaps in their voting histories, though Rice has the biggest gap.
The NY Times reports this "may help bolster one of the main lines of attack from her fellow Democrats: that she is a political opportunist with no genuine attachment to the Democratic Party." Assemblyman Richard Brodsky (D-Westchester), another Democratic AG candidate, who has voted every year since 1975 (he registered in Westchester in 1971; his campaign says he first registered in the 1960s and voted regularly), said, "These were the Bush years, so thank goodness. This meant one less Republican vote during those years."
According to the Times, Rice says she registered as a Republican at age 18 "at the urging of her father," but then "Working as a federal prosecutor in Philadelphia, she re-registered as an independent before changing her registration to Democrat in 2005." She said, "I chose, late in life, to get involved in politics because I wanted to try and make neighborhoods and families safer. While some career politicians may be different, my voting record earlier in life is further proof that I’m not someone who ever set out on some flawless lifelong political plan to run for office." [See Carolyn Kennedy]
While some candidates didn't directly address Rice's voting record, a spokesman for State Senator Eric Schneiderman (D-Manhattan), he of the damaged NY1 editor's car incident, said, "It's up to Ms. Rice to explain to New York's Democratic primary voters why they should choose a longtime Republican who never participated in the civic process until it served her own political self-interest."
Assemb. Richard L. Brodsky (D-Westchester) has voted every year since 1975, according to available records - and he says he began voting in the late 1960s.
Donovan, 53, the Republican Staten Island district attorney, voted every year since 1992, and says he has voted every year since becoming eligible in the mid-1970s.
Democrat Sean Coffey, 54, a former federal prosecutor, voted in 15 of the 26 years since he registered to vote in Nassau in 1984, and recalled voting previously in other states.
Eric R. Dinallo, 46, a former Democratic state insurance commissioner, voted in 14 of the 18 years since registering to vote in New York City in 1991.
State Sen. Eric T. Schneiderman (D-Manhattan), 55, voted in 20 of the 24 years since he registered to vote in New York City in 1986, and said he voted as a student in Massachusetts in the 1970s.
Rice first voted in 2002 in Philadelphia and has voted every year since. She had registered as an independent in Philadelphia in 2000 after she began working there as a federal prosecutor.
In April 2005, Rice returned to Nassau, this time registering as a Democrat to run that year for district attorney. She won and was re-elected in 2009.
Coffey's campaign notes that he voted via military absentee ballot during his Navy years, but those ballots were likely not counted.