Sal Tabit, a lawyer for Lantigua, was optimistic.
“Let's assume for a minute that a vast majority of the provisional ballots, if they're allowed to be entered, go to the mayor,” Tabit said, describing a best-case scenario for his client. “Let's say at the end of the day, you're not down 60 votes, but you're down 20 votes. Then challenged voters, and the possibility of some votes not being counted because of jammed machines” could deliver Lantigua a second four-year term.
The official process begins at 4 p.m. tomorrow, when the provisional ballots will be retrieved from the basement vault at City Hall, where they are being guarded by police around the clock, and delivered to the city's Board of Registrars.
The registrars will not review the ballots themselves, which remain sealed, but will review the attached affidavits filed by the 54 voters affirming they are registered voters. The registrars also may hear arguments from Tabit and David Torrisi, the former state representative representing Rivera, about which of the ballots should be counted and which discarded.
Just three of the board's five seats are filled, including one held by Ana Medina, who campaigned actively for Lantigua and contributed $400 to his re-election effort.
The other two seats are held by City Clerk William Maloney, and Laurence Collopy, a part-time security guard. Lantigua has nominated two other men to fill the remaining vacancies on the board, including Francisco Surillo, the estranged brother-in-law of Deputy Police Chief Melix Bonilla, who managed Lantigua's 2009 campaign. The City Council has not acted on the nominations.
Lantigua and Rivera can challenge the registrars' ruling on any of the 54 ballots. Challenges would be heard in Superior Court.
Secretary of State William Galvin said his office, which maintains a statewide registrary of voters, is aiding Lawrence's Election Division in attempting to “authenticate or disqualify” the provisional ballots. He speculated that some registered voters who do not appear on the rolls in Lawrence may have registered at a bureau of the state's Registry of Motor Vehicles, which could have misfiled the form.