Niagara Gazette

Local News

July 23, 2013

Sheriff's office looking into petition complaint in Legislature's 5th District

Niagara Gazette — A Niagara County lawmaker has filed a complaint with the sheriff's office accusing the appointed clerk of the legislature of misusing her powers as a notary public in an effort to help his opponent secure a minor party line in their upcoming race. 

Legislator Jason Zona, a Democrat who represents the Town of Niagara and parts of Niagara Falls as the legislature's 5th District representative, has asked the sheriff's office to investigate an opportunity to ballot petition submitted to the board of elections by his opponent, Giulio Colangelo, and notarized by county legislature clerk Mary Jo Tamburlin. 

Zona also filed specific objections to the petition with the board of elections on Tuesday. 

Zona and Niagara County Democratic Committee Chairman Nick Forster are accusing Tamburlin, who helped Colangelo collect voter signatures as part of the petition process earlier this month, of altering the date tied to three petition signatures in an effort to give the candidate a better chance of securing the Working Families Party line on the ballot this fall.

Zona is endorsed by the Democratic and Working Families parties, while Colangelo, who is registered with the Independence Party, has the support of both the county Republicans and Conservatives. 

The opportunity to ballot process allows candidates to attempt to steal a party line away from their opponent by obtaining a majority of write-in votes during the September primary. Due to the relatively low number of registered Working Families Party voters in the district, Colangelo needed just five signatures on an opportunity to ballot petition to qualify for a write-in campaign. This year, the board of elections required petitions for opportunity to ballot to be filed by July 18.

Individuals who are not members of the party in question are not allowed to secure signatures from registered party voters as part of the opportunity to ballot process. A notary public, such as Tamburlin, or a commissioner of deeds, can, under the law, attest to the accuracy of any party's petitions. 

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