EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

November 5, 2012

Fake signatures spark call for takeover

LAWRENCE — A handful of local officials and candidates said yesterday that allegations an election worker faked signatures on a nominating petition raises doubts about whether the city is qualified to run tomorrow’s election and asked the state to send monitors into its polling places.

“The right for every legitimate vote to be counted is at the core of our system of government,” John “Jack” Wilson, the Republican candidate for Northern Essex Register of Deeds, said in a letter to Secretary of State William Galvin, who oversees elections statewide. “At this point, it is unclear whether that goal may still be possible in Lawrence on Tuesday, which is why it is critical that your office take immediate action.”

Spokesmen for Galvin did not respond to a phone call seeking comment on Wilson’s request and on the allegations that city election official Rafael Tejeda signed the names of at least four other people on nominating petitions circulated last spring by the campaign of City Council President Frank Moran, a Democrat running for the Statehouse.

The allegations were published yesterday in The Eagle-Tribune, which also found that after allegedly signing the four names — including the name of a woman who is not a U.S. citizen — Tejeda certified that the signatures were valid.

The newspaper relied on an analysis by forensic handwriting expert Ronald Rice of Plymouth, who found that “the style, slant and flow” of the four signatures are the same as Tejeda’s own signature on Moran’s nominating petitions. Rice, a court-certified handwriting analyst for 35 years, also compared the four signatures on the petitions to Tejeda’s signature on his voting card on file at the Election Division.

Tejeda said Friday he is “100 percent sure” he did not sign the names of the four other residents, who all either live in the same building as Tejeda at 73 Greenwood St. or on the same block. He said he signed Moran’s petition when a woman approached him with it in the driveway of his house in March, then urged the woman go inside the building for more signatures.

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