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October 25, 2013

Common Council candidates square off

PLATTSBURGH — The controversy over potentially tainted absentee ballots highlighted Wednesday night’s forum for City of Plattsburgh Common Council candidates.

“This enrages me, not as a Republican but as a taxpayer,” Ward 2 candidate Michael Drew said.

“This should anger every candidate that this is happening.”

ABSENTEE BALLOTS

Drew was referring to a situation regarding hundreds of applications for absentee ballots that apparently were delivered to voters in the city. He and other Republicans are charging that some people, on the behalf of the Working Families Party, were providing them to students and other residents under false pretenses.

The voters must indicate on the applications why they need an absentee ballot, and many of them are marked that the person will be out of town. Many of those are from students at SUNY Plattsburgh, which is in session on Election Day, Nov. 5.

To knowingly fill out an application with false information could land a person a felony charge, according to City Police.

The Working Families Party has endorsed most Democratic candidates in the city.

Democratic candidates have denied any wrongdoing.

‘CAN’T FAULT MOTIVES’

Drew posed a question about the controversy to his opponent, Democrat Michael Kelly, during the forum, which was hosted by the Plattsburgh Area League of Women Voters at City Hall.

Kelly said he had nothing to do with the effort to deliver absentee-ballot applications. He said he supported efforts to increase opportunities for people to vote, as long as the rules are followed.

“Maybe the rules will shake out,” Kelly said. “But I can’t fault their motives.”

The issue came up again in the Ward 1 session, when independent candidate Maureen Carlo asked her opponents, Democrat Rachelle Armstrong and Republican William Ferris, for their thoughts on the matter.

Armstrong said she supports distribution of absentee ballots.

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