WASHINGTON COUNTY, N.Y. -- The Washington County District Attorney has filed a request with the court to assign a special prosecutor to investigate "voting irregularities"in Granville during theSept.15 Republican primary elections.

District Attorney Kevin C. Kortright, who is runningagainst Granville attorney Robert Winn for the office in the November election, filed the motion on Monday. Kortright lost the Republican primary to Winn by 165 votes.

While the deadline to challenge the count has gone by, Kortright said he is seeking action that will prevent the alleged irregularities from occurring in the general election.

Kortright said he was made aware of the situation by election officials as well as members of Democrat committees. In his motion, Kortright said there are allegations from election inspectors that claim Ronald Diagle Jr., a paid campaign worker for Winn, "came to the registration table and helped an older ‘confused' woman to register to vote, ‘took her into the polling machine and entered with her."'

Kortright said inspectors further allege that later that evening Diagle came to the polls again with another older, "apparently confused," voter and attempted to enter a voting booth with that person but was stopped by election inspectors.

In his motion, Kortright said there are further allegations that Winn himself went into a polling location with a woman he said had not been allowed to vote. Kortright said there are allegations that the woman was not a registered Republican and was allowed to vote on the same line as another registered Republican who had the same last name.

"A desperate campaign"

"I regard it as a desperate act by a desperate campaign," said Winn in an interview on Tuesday.

Winn said there is no truth to any of the allegations that election laws were violated and that he is outraged over Kortright's motion. "I'm not going to dignify his allegations by going through them point by point," he said. "I find it disgraceful."

A resident of Granville, Winn said he was the Washington County District Attorney for 16 years up until 2006. Since 2007, he has maintained a private practice in Fort Edward.

Winn said it was not appropriate of Kortright to send his motion to the media before conducting any kind of investigation beforehand. "This is inconsistent with the actions of an ethical prosecutor," he said.

Kortright said that because he is directly involved in the election, he cannot conduct the investigation through his office. In his motion, Kortright brings up the 2006 primaries when John Winn, Robert Winn's brother, was running for an open County Court judge seat. Kortright said it was alleged that Robert Winn had improperly looked at voting records to see who had not yet voted.

Kortright said in an interview that by looking at the record books, campaign workers can directly contact those who have not yet cast their ballot to gain an advantage. In his motion, Kortright said the alleged improper behavior occurred at four polling locations in Granville when Winn was serving as an assistant district attorney for Essex County.

Kortright said the Washington County Board of Elections reviewed the allegations from 2006 and directed Winn not to engage in similar behavior in the future.

Winn said there was never a special prosecutor assigned in 2006, nor was there any evidence found of wrongdoing on his part.

Contact Keith Whitcomb at kwhitcomb@benningtonbanner.com.