By Richard J. Scirocco
We have all been a little quizzical of past election results. When you have dozens of caring observant individuals watching closely, it opens the eyes and the mind to a new level. The count from Somervilles most recent election had several questionable actions that are leaving many people in shock over the posted result numbers and activity throughout the election process.
Starting out, with requests for absentee ballots from every day citizens to exercise their right to vote for their favorite candidate. Voters made their request directly to the Election Department headed up by long time Commissioner Nick Salerno who had been the departments head for decades. He has handled dozens of elections and completely knows his way, around the office. This particular race was handled with some mishaps that many feel had done the voters a disservice.
A few examples of incidents, were, changing polling places and posting misinformation on line that was changed over just before the election date. This alleged incident promoted outbursts inside polling stations particularly in Capen Court and the West Somerville School stations. Many early mailer requests for absentee ballots were taken in weeks ago by the department. One such family had four for their household alone , and, on a day or two before the ballots were due back, they received their return correspondence from the department which ended up empty letters, containing no ballots for voting. Irate, the requestees made a call directly to the election department at City Hall to complain on their challenge to cast a ballot on time.
Another similar incident occurred when an elder man made a similar request but, was dumbfounded at the empty correspondence letter received just a few days before the election was to take place. A third similar incident frustrated a Veteran so much that he was repeatedly quoting ” why did we fight for our Countries rights if they are just going to remove them whenever they choose?” Still, yet another incident stated directly from a campaign worker that her elder mother did not receive the absentee ballot request creating a situation making her unable to vote.
The question becomes valid of how many others suffered the same fate? An unidentified source left a voicemail message giving particular evidence description of his son working for the election department currently, and had confiscated and documented illegal activity by the department itself. He expressed that enough is enough and the fraud must stop! The audio was given to federal authorities. The voter stations changed around for unidentified reasons became very confusing to elders and all ages alike.
The next question raised was that during the early voting, ballots, that were cast by citizens, then dropped, into a lesser amount of barrels inside the Councilors chamber instead of the same number of polling stations. The common sense observation is that there were more than fourteen polling precincts. On one particular day it was observed by two checkers that, two blind citizens came up to exercise their early voting privileges.
The actual count machine was brought forth for those two ballots to be fed in. The ballot became jammed and a technician had to be brought in, to open the machine and remove the ballot jammed. The election representative tore the ballot in two and cast it directly into the waste barrel. The other ballots that were inside the fourteen barrels in the Councilors Chambers remained uncounted at the end of the pre election process. Instead, they were taken and dumped into unsecure boxes and removed to an undisclosed location.
Another local citizen witnessed a voter drop box emptied out during the course of the election day. Being aware as a former election official well aware of the rules of handling, made immediate contact to our campaign to state that a DPW worker without any escort, removed multiple absentee ballots from the box, loaded them into his truck and drove off heading in an opposite direction from the city hall destination. Weeks prior to the Primary, a formal certified letter requesting detailed particulars on how proper handling of the ballots and procedure was to be performed, was sent directly to the Election Commissioner. The answer was not returned, but, instead ignored, so a major political Law firm was hired to reach the answers to the questions of concern. An answer is still expected, but, no response has been provided to date describing the answers.
The ballots cast by citizens went hidden for four days, Friday through the following Tuesday, and then resurfaced on Tuesday the 14th at noon. The count of 1006 cast ballots between Tuesday through Friday at the early voting session, by observers combined with an undetermined report of the amount of thousands of absentee ballots placed together made the combination of cast votes. As the unveiling of ballots began on Tuesday( preliminary election day) it raised even higher eye brows. The absentee mailed in ballots were opened for what appeared to be the first time. However there was witness to the effect that confirmation of at least one ballot was preopened in the election department. The first real question here is why would the department have it resealed and then revealed?
The number of votes counted has been a tradition of many campaigns. These numbers can become very confusing and distorted but in this expected race of possible discrepencies, it may have been more accurate than first expected. One incident caught on video clearly showed a poll worker and a Warden in view opening a sealed absentee ballot inside the polling station during the afternoon hours of the primary, and feeding it into the machine without hesitation or a credibility check. This is an actual act of the illegal mishandling of a ballot.
The first action made after reciept of this absentee ballot should be to submit it directly to the election department for certification of signature and name, after which, it would be properly counted and then sent to the particular polling station in the ward/ precinct that it belonged to. A simple check and balance procedure. It was very peculiar how that ballot suddenly appeared and actually belonged to that poll station when no one read it previously. Where the rest are located is the main question many are now asking.
According to unofficial tallys from consultants and observers, opinions that nearly 26860 votes should have been cast or submitted which had a more normal ring to the real count. Numbers don’t lie, only the people that print them do. Interaction with ulterior motive presents a troubled trust in an honest election process. Example of this past election would reveal the following numbers made public after a public announcement by Election officials stated at one point the next day that 12,000 were counted. The following was reported on the night prior;
4498 W Bah
4162 Katjana Ballantyne
4083 Mary Cassesso
2215 William B Tauro.
With 18 write ins and 58 blanks
Is this a true accounting of deserved votes?
So what may have happened to the rest? Political analysts made their predictions just a few weeks before this election took place. The absentee ballot played such a major role also, supporting the process which a no ID policy was required to vote. This questionable action has plagued many elections of the past and demands have been made by many candidates to identify the actual person coming out to vote.
The pertinent questions may have never been raised prior to this election. The challenge of a recount becomes very costly as one estimate ranged over thirty thousand dollars. In the Somerville school system we were always taught how to analyze a situation to determine its answer. Ask yourselves who, what, when, where, why, and most importantly, how!
During past elections tally counts were requested and given throughout the daily process, but, when I personally asked for a readout as a legal representative of the campaign it was denied by the Warden stating that you can read the count on the machine only. Unfortunately, the count in red at the top of the screen that also had a statement at the bottom of the screen that read, scanned, which displayed a much larger number. This was confirmed by another Checker/observer that at one point viewed 200 ballots in red at the top and 600 ballots scanned at the bottom of the same display screen. Why is a computer screen required for a simple counting machine was another question raised? Perhaps this was a glitch or something that belonged behind the first display screen and should have been programmed to remain unseen?
One last observation very important to the full analysis would be that a majority of public opinion would be that Wbah did the least amount of work during the entire campaign timeframe. It was a surprise to many that he had emerged first. This included himself who had stated to witnesses he expected to be last.
A man that has come from Cameroon just six years ago as he had boasted. He was approached after the count was made public, and in disbelief thought that he had been last not first. This, from an MIT former worker dealing in computers where many of the United States Governments programs are designed and constructed for computer conveniences. The observation of the phone system of city hall suspiciously going down roughly during 8am to 1230pm where the phone system used, is of a particular model, was very interesting.Certain models usually coincide with shut down mode when an external computer is in use.
A timeframe where many elderly and Veterans as well as supporters went out to exercise their voting right! An internal investigation appears to be needed as these discrepencies will only continue. Further investigations are now being pursued as the Federal Bureau Of Investigations has been put on notification. The Secretary of State has also been put on notification to investigate this matter more closely. Perhaps Homeland Security should take an interest as well. Hopefully a conclusive answer will follow before the November election which is only a short timeframe away. Mary Cassesso has since conceded to the race congratulating the top two although it was a close result. In the time remaining, the William B.Tauro campaign has not given up their efforts. He will be running on a write in/ sticker campaign which makes it an easy counting process with more legitimacy. Instructions are simple. Write in “William Tauro” in the space provided that reads “Write-in.” Obtain a sticker , go to your polling place, peal off and apply to the actual ballot! Color in that dot. Submit the ballot to the box.