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November 5, 2013

Lawrence election closely monitored

LAWRENCE – When Lawrence voters cast ballots yesterday, they were closely monitored by outside observers and local activists on the lookout for possible irregularities and other problems at the polls.

As many as four voting machines broke down – including one that broke twice - a poll worker was removed for electioneering and piles of campaign literature were dropped off inside polling places, but spokesmen for the Secretary of State, Common Cause and city police reported few of the more serious irregularities that occurred in September’s preliminary election.

“It’s been pretty quiet,” Pamela Wilmot, executive director of the Massachusetts chapter of Common Cause, which sent 30 observers to the city.

“We had a few problems we addressed in the morning. Those were taken care of pretty quickly. We were very pleased with how it’s going and thankful the Secretary of State is there and we’ve been able to work with them in the city to solve minor problems that came to our attention.”

Wilmot said the campaign fliers for Mayor William Lantigua found inside polling places “were promptly thrown out” and that the poll worker at the Guilmette School in District D2 who was advocating for a candidate also was removed. She was unable to name the worker or to say for whom he or she was electioneering.

Lantigua’s cell phone was not taking messages yesterday and so he could not be reached, but challenger Daniel Rivera said yesterday was “another chaotic day” of voting.

”It started with a bunch of machines down,” Rivera said. “At least four.”

He said when he happened upon City Clerk William Maloney and attempted to express his concern, Maloney told him to “call City Hall.”

One of the downed voting machines, which scan ballots marked by voters, broke down as soon as the polls opened at 7 a.m. at the East Haverhill church that serves Ward B4. Rafael Tejeda, the city’s bilingual election coordinator, said the machine was repaired in 90 minutes and that ballots cast during the breakdown were to be hand-counted after the polls closed.

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