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Candidates want poll watchers

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By David Giuliani

All five candidates in the Ward 3 City Council race have signed a petition asking for poll watchers and challengers to be on hand for Tuesday’s election.

Under state law, a petition containing the signatures of a majority of candidates gives them the right to designate poll watchers and challengers.

Candidate Andrew Feldman drafted the petition document, and he came up with the names for the poll watchers and challengers. His opponents, Joey Herrera, Henry A. Sanchez, Luis Ortiz and Max Trujillo, signed on Wednesday.

“The challengers and watchers will be there to ensure the democratic process is democratic and fair,” Feldman said in a statement. “This action is being taken because there are at least 300 people on the voter roll who are either deceased or no longer live at their listed address. The number of irregularities in the voter roll leaves room for voter fraud to occur.”

He noted that voter fraud is a fourth-degree felony.

Herrera said he has “total confidence” in City Clerk CherylAnn Yara, who runs city elections. He said he decided to sign the petition so as to prevent charges of voter fraud later on, as has happened in previous Ward 3 races.

He acknowledged that all the challengers and watchers were picked by Feldman, but he said they would have to follow the law. If they don’t, Herrera said, that “would reflect badly on Andrew.”

Ortiz said he also thought the petition was a good idea.

“It keeps the election fair and honest. May the best man win. Let’s have a fair fight,” he said.

Sanchez said, “This certainly prevents people who shouldn’t be voting. In the past, there have been allegations of that.”

Trujillo couldn’t be reached for comment.

City Attorney Matt Sandoval said the petition meets the requirements, but he said the city still needed to check whether the poll watchers and challengers were qualified voters in Ward 3.

Poll watchers are allowed to observe the election to make sure all rules are being followed, examine voting machines and witness the counting of ballots.