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Former Lackawanna Mayor accused of suppressing Arab American & Muslim votes

Posted at 4:47 PM, Nov 03, 2020

LACKAWANNA, N.Y. (WKBW) — There is a petition asking for former mayor of Lackawanna, Geoffrey Szymanski, to step down from his current position on Lackawanna City Council over charges of voter intimidation targeting the local Arab-American community.

"We're seeking his removal or his resignation due to the fact that he attempted to suppress 230 Arab American Muslim votes. And it wasn't until we were able to FOIL that request and find that information that he ultimately withdrew his request," said Amira Muflahi, an organizer with VOICE.

The group VOICE, or Voters Organized to Inspire Civic Engagement, says ballots would have been tossed out had they not intervened. Muflahi said voters who cast those ballots were never contacted.

The group said this happened during city's Democratic Party committee election this past June, when there were approximately ten Arab-American candidates running.

"A candidate that was running for the Democratic committee seat, and his ballot was being challenged. His own ballot for his own election," said Muflahi.

"What we are seeking is criminal prosecution from the Erie County District Attorney. I've spoken with and I'm in communication with an assistant district attorney. I'm also in communication with the FBI because there could be federal criminal activity here," said Attorney Peter Reese, who is working with VOICE.

Reese said the Attorney General's Civil Rights & Voting Rights Division is investigating the issue. 7 Eyewitness News has confirmed that the District Attorney is investigating allegations of suppression of Muslim voters in general in Lackawanna.

7 Eyewitness News has reached out to Councilman Szymanski for a comment but have not yet heard back.