EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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October 23, 2013

State report details voting 'chaos' in Lawrence

(Continued)

The Eagle-Tribune filed a Public Records Law request for Trinidad’s report on Oct. 3, after McNiff declined to say whether Trinidad noted any irregularities during the preliminary election. Tassinari released the report late Monday.

Trinidad’s report adds to the list of alleged voting irregularities in a city with a history of them dating at least to 1998, when the federal government alleged that its at-large system of elections diluted the voting power of Hispanics. The city settled the suit by creating election districts for City Council and School Committee candidates, and later was ordered to redraw the district lines.

More recently, a handwriting expert hired by The Eagle-Tribune last year concluded that city Election Division employee Rafael Tejeda faked the signatures of four of his neighbors — including a Dominican citizen — on nominating petitions for Frank Moran, the City Council president who was elected to the Statehouse. Tejeda denied the allegation.

Also last year, the city appeared overwhelmed by the turnout for the presidential election, when polling places ran out of pens, voting booths collapsed under the weight of voters and the lines at some polling places were as deep as 400 people, and the wait to cast a ballot was as long as three hours as untrained poll workers worked through voter rolls that were sprinkled with errors.

A City Council committee chaired by Rivera held hearings on the shortcomings after the 2012 election. When it ended, Rivera said Maloney should be fired.

Maloney could not be reached yesterday.

But in a cover letter that accompanied his report, Trinidad said Maloney “is a very willing candidate for the job of continuing to make the election process in Lawrence better.”

“Overall,” Trinidad said, “I think the election process in Lawrence has come a very long way from where it was.”

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