EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

January 20, 2010

Lawrence 'fraud' video not what it claims to be

(Continued)

Melendez said she believes the video was actually shot Monday during an appearance by Vicki Kennedy for Coakley at Mary Immaculate Nursing/Restorative Center in Lawrence.

She said she remembered talking to a man wearing a reporter's tag outside the event, though she said she did not remember being filmed.

Tejeda, the bilingual elections coordinator, said he saw nothing wrong with Melendez's actions as captured on the video.

"Like she says on the video, it was more educational and who the candidates are," he said.

Melendez said she has been trying to educate city voters on the special election, using sample ballots and her Spanish-language radio show.

"I wanted them to learn, I can't tell them who to vote for," she said.

Melendez also promotes voter registration through Votantes en Accion, Voters in Action, one of the many groups she founded.

Melendez is a longtime political activist, who, in 2001, became the first Hispanic to be nominated for mayor, losing a close race to Michael Sullivan. More recently she worked on William Lantigua's winning campaign for mayor.

Electionjournal.org was one of several out-of-state groups looking for evidence of fraud in yesterday's closely watched election.

Its video of Melendez did not indicate when or where it was shot and the group could not be reached for comment.

An organization calling itself Washington News Alert also e-mailed local and regional media with unsubstantiated reports of alleged voter fraud in Lawrence. The group is sponsored by Americans for Limited Government of Fairfax, Va.

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