MALONE — Investigation is continuing into possible election-petition tampering involving the Franklin County Board of Elections.
Clinton County District Attorney Andrew Wylie was named special prosecutor in the case in September and is looking into when, why and who allegedly altered Democratic Party nominating petitions in the Town of Malone.
The allegations involve a name being scratched off a petition and replaced with another one.
The petitions were circulated by Mary Scharf on behalf of candidates Hugh Hill, Jean Pond, Donald Merrick and Deborah Merrick.
Wylie said he spoke Monday with the investigator he assigned to the case.
“He indicated he’s still waiting to interview Mary Scharf and get information from her or her attorney in regard to the investigation,” he said. “Then, we will be able to wrap up the matter.
“I can’t comment whether that would mean bringing criminal charges or just district attorney’s information,” he said, either of which would be filed in Franklin County Court.
“It’s still an ongoing investigation.”
PETITION INS AND OUTS
Malone has 10 election districts, and two people are selected to serve each district. They must circulate petitions and get signatures from at least 5 percent of the eligible party voters in their own district.
The petitions are then filed with the Board of Elections Commissioners Kelly Cox (Democrat) and Veronica King (Republican).
But election commissioners are not responsible for verifying the signatures.
The person who circulates the petition is supposed to make sure those who sign are from the proper election district.
Once the petitions are in the hands of the election commissioners, an objection to a petition can be filed within three days.
The challenger then has six more days to specify which petition signatures may be invalid.
The commissioners then weigh a complaint at a hearing and make a ruling, and if a signature is deemed invalid, it is removed from the petition.
Someone challenged the petitions Scharf carried for other committee candidates in June and July, but it came after the three-day deadline had passed.
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
The petition challenger spoke with Franklin County District Attorney Derek Champagne, who requested a special prosecutor because his office would have a conflict of interest.
Wylie referred the case to State Police, which requested the State Board of Elections be called in to conduct its own investigation.
He said there is no way to tell how much longer the probe might take since it depends on Scharf’s information.
Scharf said Monday she had received a message from an investigator and returned the call, “but they haven’t called back as far as I know. That was a month or two ago. That’s the last I heard from them.”
Email Denise A. Raymo:email@example.com