As an elections commissioner, it is my responsibility, as it is of everyone who works at the Clinton County Board of Elections to uphold the integrity of the voting process.
It is something the state of New York and all its citizens expect and demand of us.
I have obviously been following the events that have now been the subject of two major articles in the Press-Republican with more than a casual interest.
The information I am relaying in this submission is based on conversations I have personally had with approximately 40 registered voters in the City of Plattsburgh who have requested absentee ballots and is in no way based on an opinion of this commissioner.
I am not making any accusations of wrongdoing against any of the parties involved, simply restating the conversations with these voters.
The voters I talked with were approached by members of the Working Families Party to apply for absentee ballots and were told they could vote now and not have to go to the polls on Election Day.
In many cases, the solicitor filled out the application, had the voter sign it and marked the reason for requesting the ballot to indicate that the person would be out of the county on Election Day. If the voter had not so indicated that would be the case to the solicitor, that could be a violation of the Election Law, Section 8-400.
At a later date, either that same person or another member of the Working Families Party returned with their ballot and on some occasions, according to the voters, helped them fill it out and then left with the ballot. This may have simply been helping them understand the ballot, which is perfectly legal. I do not want to infer that they actually helped the voter fill out the ballot.
I know these solicitors are primarily members of the Working Families Party because their names were on the applications as the individual the voter was giving permission to carry their ballot back to them or were so identified by the voters. They are registered as members of that party in our voting system.
In many instances, however, according to the voters, the person who actually returned with the ballot was not the person authorized to do so on their ballot application. If that happened, it could be a violation of the Election Law, Section 8-406.
I would like to make it clear I’m not in any way inferring that any of the candidates have been involved in this process.
Additionally, there is a student who is a registered member of the Democratic Party who has solicited absentee applications for at least 62 SUNY Plattsburgh college students.
All of these were marked to indicate that they would be out of the county on Election Day, which would seem to be an unusual situation during a day when, according to the college, there are regularly scheduled classes.
The law requires that any eligible voter who does not have a disability or other qualifying reason for needing an absentee ballot and is in the county between the hours of 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. on Election Day go to the polls to vote.
As it appears that the same person filled out most of these applications for these voters, it would have been the person’s responsibility to inquire of the voter if this was in fact the case before it was so indicated on the form.
If that was not done, it could also be a violation of the Election Law, Section 8-400.
We at the Board of Elections want every qualified person to register and to vote, no matter which party or individual they support. But we want it done in a way that is consistent with the Election Laws of the state of New York.
Honest and fair elections are at the heart of our election system. Candidates and the electorate demand and deserve no less.
Gregory B. Campbell is the Republican election commissioner for Clinton County.