PLATTSBURGH — The final outcome of the Town Council election in the Town of Plattsburgh could be affected by 36 contested absentee ballots.
At present, the tally has Tom Metz (R) with 1,275 votes, William Brudvig (R) with 1,273, Michael Cashman (D, WF) with 1,254 and incumbent Paul Lamoy with 1,160.
County Democratic Chairman Martin Mannix said he believes 30 of the 36 contested ballots belong to registered Democrats.
Local Attorney Richard Cantwell filed Metz v. Castine, Cambell, (Clinton County) Board of Elections on Nov. 21 challenging the absentee ballots. He said the general basis of the challenge is whether statements on the applications and ballots were truthful and whether the statutes on absentee ballots were followed.
A few others are challenged on technical issues, Cantwell said.
The matter is being heard by New York State Supreme Court Justice John T. Ellis at 2 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 12, on the third floor of the Clinton County Government Center.
A motion to dismiss based on failure to include all candidates was denied Nov. 27.
Cashman and Lamoy are represented by attorney Kathleen O’Keefe. Local Attorney C.J. Madonna appeared on her behalf and made a motion to dismiss because all candidates were not included.
Ellis denied the motion and gave Cantwell until Dec. 5 to add those names. The new action lists Metz and Brudvig as the petitioners and Cashman, Lamoy, the Clinton County Board of Elections and Board of Election Commissioners Gregory Campbell and Susan Castine as respondents.
Mannix said there was no violation of statutes regarding absentee ballots. He said the requirement is that the person who fills out the ballot has to have a reasonable expectation they are not going to be in the county to vote in the election or is otherwise unable to make it to the polls.
He likened the situation to the challenge of absentee ballots in the Clinton County Legislature election by incumbent Mark Dame (R), who later dropped that effort. Mannix said when those 96 ballots were opened, there was no finding of misuse of absentee ballots.
He believes the challenges in the town targeted people of lower economic status.
“It’s bad enough when they challenge someone’s right to vote. It’s worse when they believe there is a class of people that shouldn’t be allowed to vote,” Mannix said.
Metz declined to comment until the facts of the case are brought out in court. Brudvig didn’t return a call seeking comment.
Cantwell said it is unclear if a decision will be made in court on Thursday, as there is a lot of paperwork and information to be submitted.
Email Dan Heathdheath@pressrepublican.com