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OCT 15 - OCT 22, 2015

Virtuoso Wants Better Security At the County Board of Elections

By Mike Hudson

OCT 15, 2015

Dennis Virtuoso (D- Niagara Falls) is the senior legislator in the Niagara County Legislature and is its minority leader.
Lynn Fronczak, Republican Election's Commissioner does not see the need.

Democratic Niagara County Legislator Dennis Virtuoso has introduced a resolution that would bring the level of security at the county Board of Elections in line with that of other county offices.

“When I go into the Legislature office, I can’t just walk in,” said the longtime Niagara Falls representative. “I have a swipe card I have to use to unlock the door. The department of Health and Human Services is the same way.”

On September 18, the day of the primary election recount, Virtuoso said he saw something that just didn’t sit right while waiting for official results outside of the BOE offices. There he saw former county Republican Chairman Henry Wojtaszek and Niagara Falls City Republican Chairman Vincent Sandonato unlatch the door of the Board and walk inside.

“They went right in like they owned the place,” Virtuoso said. “I thought, ‘What the heck?’ The workers were seated at their desks. Nobody said a word.”

Virtuoso pointed out that considerable personal information, including the Social Security numbers of voters, is stored there. Additionally, he said, many races in this year’s primary were very close, with several minor party contests being decided by a single vote.

“I’m not accusing anybody of anything,” he said. “But there shouldn’t even be the appearance of any impropriety.”

In his resolution, Virtuoso has proposed that non Board of Elections personnel entering the BOE offices must be accompanied by a BOE employee, and also that visitors must sign in so that a record of comings and goings can be maintained.

“It’s not a big deal,” he said. “But the integrity of elections in Niagara County is too important to allow the sort of laissez faire practices we witnessed on September 18.”

Criticism of the Virtuoso resolution (see related story) has been unusually sharp and, given the overwhelming Republican majority in the Legislature, it is uncertain whether enough votes will be found to pass the measure into law.





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