EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Opinion

November 3, 2013

Editorial: Galvin does little to stop election 'chaos'

What does it take for someone to stand up for the integrity of voting process in Lawrence? Are free and fair elections only for the moneyed few?

The Sept. 17 preliminary election in Lawrence was marred by “overall chaos”, according to an observer sent to the city by Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin, who is responsible for the integrity of elections across the state.

Yet, despite the report from his own observer, Galvin will not be stirred to tell the citizens of Lawrence what he plans to do to assure tomorrow’s election in the city will be conducted fairly.

Why, exactly, have voters returned Galvin to office each election since 1995?

During the Sept. 17 preliminary election, Galvin’s 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 roam freely around polling places.

“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.”

But Galvin would rather that no one in Lawrence learned any of this. The Eagle-Tribune had to crow-bar a copy of Trinidad’s report out of Galvin’s office with a Public Records Law demand. The newspaper filed the demand after Galvin’s spokesman, Brian McNiff, refused to describe the report’s findings to reporter Keith Eddings.

Nor would McNiff or Michelle Tassinari, the director of the Secretary of State’s Election Division, describe any of the steps taken by Galvin’s office to rectify these problems.

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