Petitions Collected By Clerk Illegally Photocopied
Larry Barmore, a registered Republican and the Chautauqua County clerk, has been cited in a New York Times article for having petitions he carried for Lee Zeldin photocopied, something that is illegal.
Barmore, meanwhile, said he would never photocopy petitions and doesn’t believe anyone in Chautauqua County would have done such a thing.
Zeldin is running for governor against Kathy Hochul. He has been endorsed by the Republican and Conservative parties, while Hochul has the endorsement of the Democratic and Working Families parties.
In New York, candidates can be on multiple minor party lines, including new and defunct ones.
Barmore said he was told Zeldin was trying to create a new independent party and was asked to carry petitions. “We were told that we could get signatures from any registered voter,” he said in a phone interview with The Post-Journal/OBSERVER.
In Gerry, where Barmore resides, the town chairperson was ill, so he went out. In fact, he passed his petitions around the office during lunch break. “It was an independent line. As long as it’s a registered voter and they haven’t signed somebody else’s petition they can sign that one,” he said.
According to the Times, Barmore’s petition sheet was photocopied. And his wasn’t the only one. “Other witnesses of signature pages used at least twice in the Zeldin petition included the Republican county clerk in Chautauqua County, Larry Barmore, and Assemblyman David DiPietro, a Republican from western New York,” the article stated.
Barmore said in the article he gave his signatures to Nacole Ellis, the Republican Party chairwoman in Chautauqua County, and Ellis gave them to the Zeldin campaign, something Ellis confirmed was correct.
The article says Zeldin’s campaign was attempting to be on the Independence Party line. That party actually folded a couple of years ago but could be resurrected if enough signatures were brought forth.
Chautauqua County Board of Elections Republican Commissioner Brian Abram said because the Independence Party is no longer recognized, Barmore can legally carry petitions for it or any new or defunct party. He can’t carry petitions for the Conservative or Working Families parties, because those are active and Barmore is a registered Republican. The only exception would be is if Barmore was a notary, which he is not.
After the signatures were gathered and given to Ellis, Barmore said he was done with the petitions. He said he knows that petitions cannot be photocopied and would never do such a thing. “As to who made the copies, I wouldn’t even dare to render a guess,” he said.
The State Board of Elections invalidated Zeldin’s Independence Party application on July 12, after a challenge from the Libertarian Party and others, due to the photocopied pages.
The Libertarian Party created the website zeldincopies.com. According to the website, the Lee Zeldin Independence Party petition contained over 11,000 fraudulent duplicated signatures. That means dozens of pages were photocopied.
The Times said the state Board of Elections declined to comment to them about whether its enforcement division would be taking any action against the Zeldin campaign. A spokesman for the Albany County district attorney, P. David Soares, said it had gotten no referrals but would defer to Attorney General Letitia James. Her office declined to comment as well.
Abram said Barmore should not be criticized for his role in the situation. “He didn’t do anything wrong. He was somebody here in Chautauqua County that wanted to help put somebody on an independent line,” he said.
Abram said after the signatures were gathered by Barmore, they were sent to the state for review. “There was nothing submitted here. We don’t deal with statewide candidates. All of the paperwork, all of the petitions … go directly to the New York state Board of Elections,” he said.