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Absentee Ballot Controversy Continues in Wake of Plattsburgh Elections

WAMC/Pat Bradley

All of the six Plattsburgh city council seats were up for election this year. As the campaigns drew close to election day, Republican candidates in two wards, and in some county legislative races, raised concerns over an unusual increase in filings for absentee ballots. Both winners and losers in Tuesday’s races plan to challenge the validity of the absentee ballots.

Four Democrats and one Republican have won seats, and the ward 5 race is separated by only four votes in the aftermath of elections for the Plattsburgh Common Council.
The ward two race received a lot of attention over the last month of the campaign as Republican Mike Drew vocalized concerns about a 514 percent increase in absentee ballot filings. On election night, he lost to Democrat Mike Kelly by 20 votes.  Drew says with 64 absentee ballots pending for his ward, he would have to win 3 to 1, and doubts he can attain that margin. He conceded the race to Kelly, and is glad that the election does not hinge on the absentee ballots.

In the Clinton County legislative race, district 8 represents the southern end of Plattsburgh, overlapping part of the city’s ward two. Incumbent Republican Mark Dame also raised concerns about absentee ballot improprieties.  Dame won, defeating Democrat Bob Dolan with 56 percent of the vote. Although the victor, Dame plans to challenge the absentee ballots.

The six city council seats will be held by four Democrats and one Republican – so far. Four votes separate the candidates in the Ward 5 race.  Independent and Republican endorsed mayor-elect Jim Calnon is a bit disappointed with the new makeup of the council.

Calnon adds that he’s not concerned about challenges to the absentee ballots and doesn’t expect them to change the outcome of the city races. But he is concerned about the possible existence of tainted ballots.

The Clinton County Board of Elections will begin counting absentee ballots on Tuesday.

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