BOSTON– The MassGOP is calling on Secretary of State William Galvin to personally oversee voting in Lawrence, Massachusetts in light of reports of “confusion and overall chaos” in the cities preliminary election by his own poll observer. On November 1st, the Eagle-Tribune described multiple voting irregularities in this report, including people being illegally added to voting lists, absent poll workers, broken ballot machines, unposted rules and candidates campaigning inside the polling location.
These issues are so extreme that the non-partisan group Common Cause will be sending scores of their own objective observers. As the Chief enforcer of election rules in the Commonwealth, William Galvin should immediately and publicly address these extreme violations and personally inspect polling locations in Lawrence tomorrow.
“The people of Lawrence deserve to have free and fair elections, and according to this report this is not happening” Said MassGOP Chair Kirsten Hughes “This is Secretary Galvin’s primary responsibility, and since he refuses to address these illegal activities, he should travel to Lawrence himself tomorrow to ensure that citizens have the election process they deserve.”
EAGLE-TRIBUNE: Galvin mum about voting safeguards in Lawrence
November 1, 2013
By Keith Eddings
LAWRENCE — Secretary of State William Galvin won’t say if he is ordering changes at the city’s 24 polling places on Tuesday to prevent a repeat of the “overall chaos” witnessed by an observer he sent to the Sept. 17 preliminary election.
Among them, observer Ramon Trinidad reported seeing city poll workers pencil in the names of unregistered people to the voting list and then hand them ballots.
Trinidad also said poll workers examined completed ballots and allowed candidates to walk around freely inside polling places.
He said poll workers were sometimes hard to find while campaign workers were prolific, polling places were organized in a way that confused voters, machines that assist disabled voters were shut down and documents describing voters’ rights were not posted as required.
“I believe that when a poll worker looks at a voter’s ballot for any reason, the voter loses trust in their expectation of the right to a secret ballot,” Trinidad said in his report, describing how poll workers took ballots from voters and examined them if scanners spit them back. “It can be considered a type of voter intimidation.”
Mayor William Lantigua and City Councilor led a field of six who ran for mayor in the preliminary election and will appear on Tuesday’s ballot, along with candidates for City Council and two school committees.
The Eagle-Tribune obtained a copy of Trinidad’s report under the state Public Records Law after Brian McNiff, a spokesman Galvin, refused to describe its findings.
Michelle Tassinari, the director of the Secretary of State’s Election Division, referred a question about the steps being taken to correct the irregularities to McNiff, who again declined to comment.
Other documents the newspaper obtained by its Public Records Law request show Tassinari responded to the confused arrangements inside the polling places that Trinidad described by asking City Clerk William Maloney for the floor plans at each of the 24 polling places. Among other things, she asked Maloney to pinpoint the locations for voting booths, ballot boxes and check out tables and to indicate where poll workers will be stationed and where campaign workers observing the election for candidates will be allowed.
“With arrows, show the flow of how voters enter the polling location, proceed to check-in, proceed to the voting booth, proceed to the check-out table, proceed to cast their ballot and exit the polling location,” Tassinari said in an email to Maloney on Sept. 23, five days after Trinidad filed his report.
Galvin and Tassinari provided no other documents suggesting they directed Maloney to correct any of the other irregularities Trinidad reported.
Maloney did not return phone calls.
Trinidad’s report did not name names, including the identity of the poll worker who he said penciled in the names of unregistered voters to the voter rolls and then allowed them to vote. He declined to discuss the report last week.
Pam Wilmot, executive director of the Massachusetts chapter of Common Cause, said some of the irregularities Trinidad observed were “extreme violations of your basic elections procedures.”
She said she expected that Maloney and Tassinari have taken steps, including hosting another training session for poll workers, to correct the problems that occurred in the preliminary election.
“My guess is that we won’t be seeing that in the general election, but we’ll be watching and will intervene” if irregularities reoccur, Wilmot said.
Common Cause will be sending up to 25 observers to the city on Tuesday. Secretary of State Galvin will be sending a much smaller team.