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Scrutinizing Rice's voting record

Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice votes on

Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice votes on election day, Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2009, at Old Brookville Village Hall in Old Brookville. Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

Candidates in New York's attorney general race Saturday avoided attacking Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice's record of not voting for 18 years.

While some other attorney general candidates also had voting lapses, none had voting records as thin as Rice's, records show.

Rice spokesman Eric Phillips said her early indifference to voting doesn't mean she can't be an effective public servant.

"She's someone who chose to get involved for real, progressive reasons," he said. "A lot of adults share and understand the mistakes she made early in life."

Political strategist Michael Dawidziak said: "It shows she's typical of the voters she represents. The truth of the matter is that many people start voting over [age 35]." But he added people often vote as early as 18 in presidential elections.

Thomas Basile, executive director of the state Republican Party, said Rice's record hints that she started voting only in 2002 at age 37 because she intended to run for office some day. "There's a political calculation to this that I think will leave a bad taste in the mouth of voters," he said.

One of Rice's rivals, Assemb. Richard Brodsky (D-Westchester), who has voted consistently since the 1970s, did not comment on Rice's record but said: "Voting is the simplest and most essential building block of democracy. I'm not sure why that is a difficult concept to grasp."

Virginia Lam, a spokeswoman for Republican candidate Daniel Donovan, the Staten Island district attorney, another consistent voter, said: "Voting is truly the bedrock of our democracy and we should never take it for granted."

James Freedland, a spokesman for attorney general candidate state Sen. Eric T. Schneiderman (D-Manhattan), who voted in 20 of 24 years since registering 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."

Tammy Sun, a spokeswoman for attorney Sean Coffey, a former prosecutor who lives in Westchester and is also running for the Democratic nomination, did not comment on Rice, but said of Coffey's record - voting 15 out of 26 years - several were military absentee ballots which may have gone uncounted.

Lauren Passalacqua, a spokeswoman for Democratic candidate Eric Dinallo, a former state insurance commissioner who voted in 14 of 18 years since he registered to vote in New York City, had no comment.

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