Press-Republican

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November 1, 2013

Republicans weigh legal action over absentee ballots

Republicans question info on city absentee forms

PLATTSBURGH — Republican candidates for local office have heard firsthand from voters who say they may have been misled into casting absentee ballots this election.

“I am absolutely convinced that this is happening,” Mark Dame, a Republican incumbent candidate for the Clinton County Legislature Area 8 seat, said after meeting with several voters in recent days.

“It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure it out.”

SIX REASONS ALLOWED

Republicans cite an alleged effort on behalf of the Working Families and Democratic candidates to target voters who live in public housing or are SUNY Plattsburgh students who are registered voters but have a poor participation record in recent elections.

Republicans are concerned about the possibility that the voters were encouraged to submit falsified absentee ballots.

The effort, they claim, began with volunteers providing people with absentee-ballot applications, which is perfectly legal, and having the voters sign them. The volunteers, some Republicans claim, then filled out the rest of the form and returned it to the Clinton County Board of Elections.

The applications call for the voters to indicate why they need an absentee ballot and provides six reasons to choose from.

After applications are submitted, the absentee ballots are brought to the voter by the volunteers and are signed by the voter. In some cases, based on communication with those voters, it appears that the actual absentee ballot was not filled out by the voter, just signed.

That would mean that the votes on such a ballot might have been cast by the party volunteer and not the voter themselves.

If an absentee ballot or application is filled out fraudulently, it could result in a felony charge for the voter and the volunteer who assisted them, according to Plattsburgh City Police.

VOTERS SHARE EXPERIENCE

The Press-Republican spoke with several voters who said they did not fill out the application or the absentee ballot, but just signed them.

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