EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Opinion

October 22, 2013

Editorial:

It is clear that those who are charged with maintaining the integrity of elections at both the state and local level simply do not care.

Until officials show a willingness to insist that elections are fair and free of insider shenanigans, we can expect voter uncertainty about the integrity of the balloting process to remain high. And that surely is one factor that results in low voter turnout at the polls.

A prime example of this comes from Lawrence, where neither state nor local officials could be prodded into doing much of consequence over allegations that a city Election Division employee faked several signatures on nominating petitions last year.

The allegation is that Election Division employee Rafael Tejeda verified his own signature and faked four others on nominating petitions for Frank Moran, who went on to win the 17th Essex seat in the state House of Representatives.

A handwriting expert hired by The Eagle-Tribune last year concluded that Tejeda signed his name and four others on Moran’s petition, including the name of a woman who is not a U.S. citizen.

Tejeda then used his position as an election official to certify that all five signatures were valid.

The office of Secretary of State William Galvin, which is responsible for oversight of elections in the state, initially said there would be an investigation into the petitions. But then Galvin’s office reversed itself saying there was no need for an investigation as Tejeda, in The Eagle-Tribune’s story on the incident, denied faking the signatures.

The alleged perpetrator of an election fraud says he didn’t do it. Case closed.

The only question remaining is why Galvin would attempt to justify his own inaction with an excuse so lame.

Now, 11 months later, the Lawrence Board of Registrars has begun its own investigation. Tejeda told the board that the signatures — including his own name — were not his at all but were signed by one of the two women who were carrying the petition.

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