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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Legal action launched against Cape Vincent and county officials

November 20, 2013
Legal action launched against Cape Vincent and county officials

By Pamela McDowell, Staff Writer
  Cape Vincent -- Three incumbent town board members, as well as two Jefferson County Elections officials have been named in a legal action, and the official vote tally for the supervisor’s and council races will not become official until absentee ballots are sorted out in a court of law.
  Three Democratic candidates, Alan Wood who ran for supervisor, and Dennis Pearson and Paul Aubertine, who both ran for town council seats, have retained Wladis Law Firm in East Syracuse to represent them.
  They are challenging the validity of absentee ballots in several pages of complaints filed with the clerk of the Supreme Court Nov. 18.
  Among the allegations is that absentee ballots were issued by the board of elections in error, based upon insufficient, fraudulent and forged applications.
  According to the petition, Mr. Wood, Mr. Pearson and Mr. Aubertine believe absentee ballots were given to individuals whose primary residence is not in the town of Cape Vincent and were ineligible to vote.
  It also alleges that the board of elections received applications for absentee ballots, and mailed them out without opportunity for proper and timely review as to the validity of the application, among other related complaints. Commissioners Jerry O. Eaton and Babette M. Hall were named in the legal action.
  On election night, November 5, sitting Supervisor Urban Hirschey (R) seemed to have lost his seat to challenger Alan Wood (D) by a vote of 501 to 426, but more than 307 absentee ballots were out.
  Once the absentee ballot counting began, the totals changed. But 88 absentee ballots were contested by attorneys representing the Cape Vincent Democrats based upon envelopes alone.  Eleven opened ballots were also contested so far.
  This is not the first time that Cape Vincent town race results changed due to absentee ballots.
  Without the absentee ballots, the election night totals for the two town Council seats were as follows: Paul Aubertine (D) had the most votes, with 542. Voters cast 497 votes for Dennis Pearson (D).
  Incumbent Brooks Bragdon (R) had 406, and Councilwoman Michelle Oswald (R) had 386. The official results have not been tallied due to the lawsuit.
  A hearing is scheduled in front of Supreme Court Judge James McClusky on November 26. The Supreme Court may make a decision Tuesday, but depending on the complexities of the case it may remain unsettled longer.
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