Police: Arrest 'Imminent' in Ballot Tampering

October 21, 2011 Updated Oct 21, 2011 at 6:40 PM EDT

By Kyla Igoe

October 21, 2011 Updated Oct 21, 2011 at 6:40 PM EDT

Buffalo, NY (WKBW)- A criminal investigation is now underway after a handful of Lackawanna residents received tampered absentee ballots. The Erie County Board of Elections Commissioners say they contacted police after several Lackawanna residents claimed their absentee ballots were already marked for the County Executive race. The ballots were allegedly already marked for Republican Incumbent Chris Collins. The ballots were printed late last Tuesday, folded, and mailed the next day. The commissioners have ruled out mechanical or printing error and say only a few employees handled the ballots. Police say they have valuable evidence in the case and all suspects are board of elections employees.

"The Sheriff's Office is confident that once the evidence is professionally analyzed, an arrest will be imminent," said Erie County Undersheriff Mark Wipperman in a statement.

Police say the evidence collected reveals that neither Chris Collins or Mark Poloncarz had any involvement in the tampering of the ballots. Both are running for county executive in the November general election. About 10,000 ballots were mailed out and the commissioners say they've only received 5 or 6 calls from residents claiming their ballots were tampered with. If you have any questions about your absentee ballot, you are encouraged to call the Erie County Board of Elections at 716-858-8891