UPDATED-Judge withholds ruling in Bethlehem election lawsuit

"The whole issue of producing identification doesn't even apply," he said.

Graziano and Messina both said that identity would have to be provided through the mail for a first time voter using an absentee ballot.

The absentee ballots were objected to by Messina's attorney, James Walsh, and have remained sealed in anticipation of a judge's ruling.

"I think there was an orchestrated effort to register voters to control the party," Messina said. "It just does not seem to be right in the spirit of the law to have so many people registered and absentee ballots used by new voters all at once."

Cunningham, a Democrat who will also appear on the Independence line in November, said that his campaign efforts have been legitimate.

"Whenever I run for office, I work to register people to vote, and encourage them to enroll in parties," he said. "That's no different in this election."

Clyne said that signing new voters up to the WFP is simply politics.

"The effort was to beat him [Messina] in the primary election, because people went out and did campaign work, which he apparently elected not to do," Clyne said. "Not only isn't it illegal, but that's the name of the game."

O'Connor's decision could well swing the outcome of the primary. Messina received 10 votes on Sept. 15 and Cunningham, who staged a write-in campaign, was the recipient of four votes. Two absentee ballots left the vote at 11-5.

Including August's registrants, there are approximately 28 WFP members registered in the Town of Bethlehem, said the party's Capital Region Organizer Karen Scharff. She said the party is dedicated to a clean election process and is thus behind Messina's effort.

"In general, county boards of elections don't pay enough attention to the absentee ballot process," she said. "We want to make sure our registrants have their votes cast accurately."

Messina's lawsuit comes while a full-scale investigation into allegations of Democrat-perpetrated voter fraud on the WFP line in Troy is underway. Messina said the two instances are not alike.

"No one is alleging fraud in this case," he said.


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