Absentee Ballot Questions Raised in Scranton

SCRANTON -- The Republican Party in Lackawanna County is calling for the investigation of 155 absentee ballot applications.

Lawyers for the Republican Party have plenty of questions about absentee ballot applications brought to the Department of Elections by a worker for Mayor Bill Courtright.

They're concerned about the way the ballots were obtained and the Republican Party wants an investigation.

The challenge was filed with the Department of Elections headquarters on Stafford Avenue in Scranton Monday afternoon.

The Republican Party claims 155 absentee ballot applications came with red flags.

Almost all are from Scranton residents of Indian descent. The majority were filed by people living in three housing developments in the city, including Midtown Apartments on Adams Avenue.

"Our area's rich in voting history that have shown that anomalies -- and I'm being very polite with that -- are not allowed," said Bill Jones, attorney for the Republican Party.

Jones says there were enough anomalies for the Republican Party to hire a private detective who had some of those potential absentee voters tell their stories.

"Take a look at those affidavits and you can make your own conclusions as to what these voters said they were told to do with that material," Jones said.

The detective interviewed individuals who signed affidavits and said that while they signed forms claiming they would be out of the city, they were actually planning to work in Scranton and vote at the polls.

Others told the private detective they were instructed not to open the absentee ballots to vote, but to deliver the unopened mail with blank ballots to a temple on Prescott Avenue.

The person at the temple spoke broken English and would not comment.

The GOP is not alleging voter fraud but asking county attorneys to investigate and asking the Department of Elections not to open any of the absentee ballots from this group on election night but to hold them through the challenge process.

Tuesday afternoon, Scranton Mayor Bill Courtright called and said this is, "an attempt to intimidate a certain ethnic group," adding that, "the people who applied for these ballots are registered voters."

The Department of Elections says not yet received even one of the ballots that have been filled out.

Friday is the deadline for absentee ballots to be filed.

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