By Keith Eddings
---- — LAWRENCE — A long-time worker at city polling places who now works as a part-time security guard joined the board that oversees elections in the city this week after the City Council unanimously approved his nomination.
The council’s 9-0 vote confirming Laurence Collopy’s appointment to the Board of Registrars on Tuesday, came just two weeks before the statewide election on April 30 to fill the U.S. Senate seat John Kerry gave up to become secretary of state.
Mayor William Lantigua nominated Collopy to the board on April 2, and at the same time gave him a temporary and open-ended appointment to the board that did not require the council’s approval. The temporary appointment would have allowed Collopy to continue serving even if the council rejected him.
His appointment restored a quorum to the four-member Board of Registrars, which was left with just two members and so unable to conduct business after Lynne Garcia resigned Jan. 25.
Garcia’s resignation followed the Nov. 13 resignation of Ronald Martin, who quit the Board of Registrars to join city’s Licensing Board in an effort to help Lantigua end a similar crisis over membership on that board, which also had been unable to conduct business for months because it had no quorum.
Boards of registrars oversee elections in Massachusetts municipalities, a duty that includes ruling on voter challenges, conducting recounts and certifying results.
In Lawrence last year, the board rejected petitions calling for Lantigua’s recall, saying they did not contain enough valid signatures.
Ana Medina, the only other appointed member of the board, also was a temporary appointment whose name has never been sent to the City Council since Lantigua put her on the board on Nov. 3, 2011. City Clerk William Maloney is an ex officio member of the board.
Collopy has a bachelor’s degree from Merrimack College and has worked as a part-time security guard for eight years. He’s served as a poll worker and then a clerk at city polling places for several years.
“I just want to make sure everything’s running smoothly and everything’s above board,” Collopy said in an earlier interview about why he wants to serve as a top election official in a city known for election irregularities. “I’m tired of people taking on my city. I love this place. I love the fact that the ethnicity keeps changing. Ten years from now, people will say, ‘What did you have back then? Hispanics?’ I love that it’s an international place. That’s fun.”