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Error, not fraud, officials say

Published 7:57pm Saturday, June 22, 2013

A handful of Suffolk voters will get new voter registration cards after a citizen’s accusation of voting fraud turned up a clerical error in their records.

Frequent city critic Chris Dove accused the City Council of secretly shifting him and about 150 of his neighbors in the mostly white Westhaven Lakes neighborhood into the Suffolk Borough, where a majority of voters are black, after last year’s redistricting process.

During his speech at last week’s City Council meeting, Dove suggested the purpose of the clandestine move was to enable Suffolk Borough Councilman Charles Parr, who is white, to keep his seat in 2014.

“How many other precinct borders have been secretly moved?” Dove asked.

The Westhaven Lakes neighborhood is near Lake Meade, which constitutes part of the boundary between the Suffolk Borough and the Holy Neck Borough, where the neighborhood actually lies.

However, city and voter registrar officials said the mix-up is no nefarious deed.

Voter Registrar Susan Saunders said about 15 households on one block of Colonel Meade Drive were affected. She speculated the problem happened because of an inconsistency in abbreviating or not abbreviating “Colonel.”

The error has been corrected, and the voters will get new voter cards in the mail, she said.

City Chief of Staff Debbie George also said the state had made an error and indicated it will correct the problem.

“I am relieved that it turned out to be an accidental clerical error and not voting fraud,” Dove said by email Friday when asked for comment.

Since Holy Neck and Suffolk have not had borough-level races since the redistricting took effect, the issue did not affect the outcome of any elections.

 

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