Elections officials began counting absentee ballots in Clinton County on Monday amid allegations of potential ballot fraud in two city wards and one legislative district.
A baker’s dozen of candidates gathered as officials began counting approximately 1,150 absentee ballots and 169 affidavit ballots county-wide.
Commissioners began their count with Plattsburgh wards one and two. There was a spike in applications for absentee ballots in those districts, and Republican candidates raised red flags during the campaign. A police investigation is under way to determine if voter fraud occurred. All hand delivered ballots in those wards and County Legislative district eight have been challenged and set aside. As each mailed and affidavit ballot was opened, the envelope and its content were checked by a lawyer for Republican candidates and a Democratic representative.
Election Law Attorney James Walsh has been retained by Republican Mark Dame to review the absentee ballots. The questionable ballots are trending along specific party lines in specific wards, and Walsh believes it was an intentional effort and not ignorance of state election law.
Republican Mark Dame won his district election, but is leading the effort to review possible election fraud.
Clinton County Democratic Chair Marty Mannix is critical of what he believes is an organized effort by Republicans to attack the Working Families Party.
Mannix also questions the amount of money being spent to challenge the ballots.
Dame contends counting absentee ballots is a standard election procedure and the issue is about fair elections.
Clinton County election commissioners Democrat Susan Castine and Republican Greg Campbell explain that the challenger has three days to bring the unopened, uncounted ballots to a court.
Certification of the election must wait until a judge rules on the questionable ballots. There are about 70 total objections to absentee ballots, with 52 in one ward.