NEW YORK (Legal Newsline) - Kathleen Rice, a Democratic candidate for New York attorney general, did not cast her first ballot in an election until 2002 -- nearly two decades after she first registered to vote.

According to election records obtained by Newsday, Rice, 45, registered as a Republican in 1984 before enrolling as a Democrat in 2005 to run for district attorney.

The Nassau County district attorney did not vote in a single election for 18 years, her campaign admitted on Saturday.

Rice described it as a "youthful failing."

"My lifelong fight for social justice logically evolved into political participation, and that's a path I believe many people share," Rice said in a statement. "Now I spend my time trying to teach those early in life not to make the same mistake I did."

Rice has said she originally enrolled as a Republican when she was 18 at the urging of her father. Working as a federal prosecutor in Philadelphia, she re-registered as an independent before changing her registration to Democrat in 2005. She ran for office for the first time that year and defeated Denis E. Dillon, a longtime Nassau district attorney and a Republican.

"I chose, late in life, to get involved in politics because I wanted to try and make neighborhoods and families safer," Rice said in her statement.

"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."

Rice is considered by some to be the race's frontrunner, with the largest campaign fund and support of current New York Attorney General and Democratic gubernatorial nominee Andrew Cuomo.

The Newsday article, published over the weekend, also looked at the voting records of other candidates in the race.

Democrat Sean Coffey, 54, a plaintiffs lawyer has voted in 15 of the 26 years since he registered, though his spokesman told Newsday that he had also voted at least five times through absentee ballots during his years at the Navy.

State Sen. Eric Schneiderman, 55, has voted in 24 of the 26 years since he registered. Assemblyman Richard Brodsky, 64, of Westchester County first registered there in 1971 and is recorded as having voted every year since 1975.

Eric Dinallo, 46, a former state insurance superintendent, registered to vote in New York City in 1991 and has voted in 14 elections since then.

A spokeswoman for the lone Republican candidate in the race, Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Donovan, 53, registered when he was 18 and had voted every year since he became eligible.

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