Lawmakers in the Jefferson County town of Cape Vincent go against New York State law by passing their own law requiring voters to have a New York State Driver’s License with a Cape Vincent address. But as our Brian Dwyer reports, it’s a law that is being called illegal and some say it may have more to do with the on-going debate over wind-power than anything else.
JEFFERSON COUNTY, N.Y. – A harsh reaction to a law that was introduced at the last minute.
Cape Vincent Town Councilman Donald Mason asking that all voters in the town be required to have a valid New York State License with a Cape Vincent address in order to vote in the upcoming elections. He says it’s to prevent voter fraud.
Recently anti-wind power groups were rushing to register seasonal voters, many of whom would be likely to vote against pro-wind councilmen like Mason.
“I can’t believe anyone would be against taking care of voter fraud if it’s happening. Everybody ought to be in favor of non-voter fraud,” said Mason.
The law passed three to two. Those two no votes were for what the councilmen say are two reasons. First and foremost, they say it’s illegal. New York State law says as long as a person has lived in a home for 30 days prior to an election and registered at least 25 days in advance, they can vote wherever they choose.
“It’s up to a voter to decide where he wants to vote. You can only vote once, but you have a choice to vote where you want,” said Urban Hirschey, Town of Cape Vincent Supervisor.
The other reason, they feel it’s a huge conflict of interest. Two of the yes votes, both Donald Mason and Marty Mason, both have contracts to lease land with wind-farm developers.
“The issue has become redolent of self-interest, redolent of wind and redolent of getting money for oneselves. With all respect for my fellow board members, they should not be running for office and they should not be proposing a vote to curtail votes in their favor,” said Brooks Bragdon, Town of cape Vincent Councilman.
Now both Hirschey and Bragdon have been very vocal about not wanting wind-development in Cape Vincent. But either way, it appears when seasonal voters hit the polls, it will be just like before, town law or not.
“The policies we’ll have in place are the same as we’ve seen in the past. Our inspectors are going to react as New York State Election Law tells them to act. We expect to have people going through the poll sites with ease as we’ve seen in the past,” said Sean Hennessey of the Jefferson County Board of Elections.
September primaries are now just weeks away.
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