Press-Republican

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September 11, 2013

Malone party-petition changes probed

MALONE — A special prosecutor and the State Board of Elections are investigating possible petition tampering in Franklin County.

Clinton County District Attorney Andrew Wylie was named special prosecutor in the case involving alleged changes to Democratic Party petitions filed with the County Board of Elections.

The petitions are allegedly associated with the party caucus and County Democratic Committee nominations held in the Town of Malone on July 22.

PETITION PROCESS

On that date, petitions for those wishing to be named to the party’s committee were circulated.

The Town of Malone has 10 districts, and two people are selected from each to serve not only on the party’s town committee but the County Democratic Committee.

Those seeking a committee seat must file petitions and obtain signatures from at least 5 percent of the eligible party voters in their own election district.

Signatures obtained from voters living in a different election district do not count toward that 5 percent threshold.

CIRCULATOR VERIFIES

The petitions are filed with the County Board of Elections. It is up to the person who circulates the petition, not the election commissioners, to verify that the signatures are actually from eligible voters in his or her election district.

Once filed with the county, there is a three-day window for anyone to file an objection to a petition. Any objector then has six more days to specify what signatures may be invalid.

After that, election commissioners would hold a hearing to weigh the complaint and make their ruling. If a signature is deemed invalid, it is removed from the nominating petition.

Anyone can request a copy of a nominating petition once it is filed with the Board of Elections and becomes public record.

OBJECTION FILED LATE

An unnamed person made such a request for nominating petitions that Town Councilor Mary Scharf carried for other committee candidates, but the request came after the three-day objection period expired. One petition sought signatures for committee nominations for Hugh Hill and Jean Pond and the other for Donald Merrick and Deborah Merrick.

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