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Lawsuit seeks to remove names of the dead from Freeport voter lists

Attorney JoAnn Squillace on Feb. 15, 2017 in

Attorney JoAnn Squillace on Feb. 15, 2017 in Mineola. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Four candidates for elected positions in Freeport filed an emergency petition Wednesday in State Supreme Court against the Nassau County Board of Elections and the village clerk asking that residents who have died or no longer live in Freeport be taken off the voter registration list.

The candidates — Stephen Drummond for mayor, Angel Vargas and Philip Prestamo for trustees, and Dawn Warren for village justice — are running together on a “One Freeport” slate. Drummond’s Queens-based law firm, Drummond and Squillace, filed the emergency order to show cause.

The court filing cited 2013 news reports of voting irregularities in the village. The next municipal election is March 21.

The petition alleges that 115 deceased Freeport residents and 60 former residents remain on the current voter registration list. The court documents also give 39 instances where Freeport residents were listed more than once — with the same addresses but under different names. The examples the petition gives are out of the first 800 names on the voter registration list, attorney JoAnn Squillace said.

Among the issues cited in the 2013 news reports were that residents’ names and addresses were listed multiple times on polling place check-in sheets in Freeport. Newsday reported in October 2013 that about 6,100 deceased people were still registered to vote in Nassau County and about 270 people were recorded as voting after their deaths.

“This is not unique to Freeport,” Squillace said. “We’re hoping and we’re inviting others to join in the application. . . . It is a national concern.”

In 2014, Newsday reported that someone impersonated a Nassau County District Court judge at the polls in Freeport on Election Day. Judge Helen Voutsinas was running for a Family Court judgeship at the time and had to file a petition seeking a court order so she could vote.

Squillace said her clients filed the petition the day after they registered to run in the village election because now they have standing and can file as “aggrieved candidates.”

If the petition is only able to get one deceased person off the voter registration list, Squillace said it’ll mean one less potentially fraudulent vote.

“Then that’s a success and we must start somewhere,” she said.

Bonnie Garone, an attorney for the board of elections’ Democratic commissioner, said the office has not yet been served with the petition and could not comment.

Freeport’s village attorney, Howard Colton, said in a statement that the village cannot comment on pending litigation and referenced a 2013 case where Drummond’s running mate questioned the election’s results. The case was dismissed.

Ernie Caramanico, campaign manager for Mayor Robert Kennedy, in a statement said: “It’s truly pathetic, that instead of tackling issues that confront Freeporters on a daily basis, Mr. Drummond, once again, chooses to waste our time and taxpayer dollars on frivolous actions.”

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