MALONE — After an alleged case of hostile election fraud during the Sept. 13 primary election in Malone, Franklin County election commissioners from both major parties say they will pursue, investigate and prosecute those who commit election fraud and intimidation at polling sites in the Nov. 6 election.
Democratic Commissioner Kelly Cox described an incident during the primary when Shawn Barney — the son of unsuccessful Democratic sheriff candidate Bruce Barney, according to Franklin County District Attorney Craig Carriero — was not registered but tried to vote at the Franklin Academy high school poll site.
When the inspector could not find his name in the poll book, Shawn allegedly pointed to a name and said that was him.
The inspector informed him he had pointed to a female’s name.
“He said, ‘No, it’s me. Me! It’s a mistake! That’s me! That’s who I am,'” Cox said.
“He was so aggressive with the inspectors, the inspectors were shaken to the point where he threw his driver’s license down at them and ... one of the inspectors thought that he was going to hit her.”
The inspectors allowed Shawn to vote to placate him but immediately told Cox and Republican Commissioner Tracy Sparks about the incident.
Malone Village Police were called in for an investigation.
Carriero said Shawn was charged with second-degree forgery of a public record, a felony.
The DA said this was the first time in his two-and-a-half years in the position that he has dealt with an election law issue.
Cox and Sparks said that, back in the 2016 presidential primary, there were also several incidents at the southern end of the county when young voters were “not just rude, but aggressive.”
They said there will be a sheriff’s deputy on patrol in each of the southern and northern ends this year.
“We just want to put a statement out there saying Franklin County is not going to tolerate any election fraud going on or any harassment, intimidation of our polling inspectors,” Cox said.
She said inspectors will be on alert due to several contentious elections.
Cox said that because they don’t want inspectors to get hurt, if someone is acting threateningly toward them, they will let them vote, but will pursue charges aggressively afterward.
To avoid hacking and cyber attacks, all counties keep their voting and ballot-making machines disconnected from the internet.
When the results come in, card readers are put into a computer with zero internet access.
A thumb drive is opened straight from the package, and with it the results are then transferred to computers with internet to send results to the state and upload them online.
Cox said hacking into the county voter registration records could happen “in theory,” but that the files are secure and the county is aware of all the issues that could happen, as are the State Board of Elections and Homeland Security.
She said she could not give specific details about the security because that would defeat the point of such secret measures, but said she is “99.99 percent confident” in the safety of voter registration records.
“This is bigger than even us,” Sparks said.