Ballot Tampering Questioned In Senate Race
Coakley Campaign Says Voters Given Pre-Marked Ballots
BOSTON -- Democrat Martha Coakley's campaign raised issues of ballot tampering in at least three jurisdictions and urged Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin to further look into the matter as millions of Bay State residents went to the polls to elect a successor to Sen. Edward Kennedy.
Attorney Mark Elias said the campaign received reports of ballots being given to voters pre-marked for Coakley's opponent Republican Scott Brown.
"We have received reports of five ballots -- spanning three jurisdictions," Elias said.
Elias said the voters caught the errors and brought the ballots to back to the poll workers.
"This is obviously a serious violation, and our legal team is taking immediate steps to protect the integrity of this election," campaign manager Kevin Conroy said. "We do not yet know why this is happening, but you and everyone you know needs to be aware of the situation so that you can carefully inspect your ballot."
Earlier Tuesday, Galvin was investigating reports that two ballots had been pre-marked for Brown, one in Cambridge and one in Boston's Brighton neighborhood. He said the ballots had been located and voided.
In addition to the incidents in Brighton and Cambridge, voters at the Centerville Elementary School in Beverly said they also received ballots that were already marked for Brown. The city clerk's office said a poll worker inadvertently handed out ballots that were already cast.
Coakley was fighting hard Tuesday to hang on to U.S. Senate seat held by Democrats for decades.
Galvin expected up to 2.2 million people to vote in the special election. Some voters faced backups at polling stations, while others had to navigate slippery sidewalks and a messy commute to the polls.
A confident Coakley cast her ballot in Medford, Mass., Tuesday morning and said "it was a short intense campaign."
Her opponent, Republican Scott Brown, who was once 30 points behind Coakley, voted at an elementary school in Wrentham, where he downplayed the importance of becoming the 41st Republican.
"It would make everybody the 41st senator, and it would bring fairness and discussion back to the equation," Brown said.
Recent poll numbers had Democrats worried that a Republican win would slow down President Barack Obama's agenda. The seat represents the 60th vote Democrats need to get the health bill through the Senate.
Obama, who campaigned with Coakley in the Bay State on Sunday, appeared in a last-minute ad urging voters to support the attorney general. The campaign even launched automated telephone calls from Kennedy's widow, Vicki Kennedy, and Vice President Joe Biden.
Six years ago, if Massachusetts election law was not changed, Gov. Deval Patrick could have appointed someone to the vacant U.S. Senate seat.
In 2004, when Sen. John Kerry was the presidential nominee, Democrats moved to block then-Gov. Mitt Romney from appointing someone to fill the seat if Kerry made it to the Oval Office. Lawmakers decided it was best to have a special election and let the voters decide who would fill the seat.
Kennedy, who died in August after battling brain cancer, held the seat for 47 years.
If this is true- and from some of the harassment I got from the Scott Brown criers, I suspect it is- how many of these got through without people noticing? Brighton has a large immigrant population with ballot issues before, so I worry.