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.