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Voting Problems, Fraud, Scandals Plague Polling Places Across America: Massachusetts
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Photo: USA Really

Voting Problems, Fraud, Scandals Plague Polling Places Across America: Massachusetts

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MASSACHUSETTS – December 7, 2018

The Massachusetts elections website has seen an increase in attempted intrusions, Bill Galvin, the state's elections chief, told reporters the day before voters head to the polls for the 2018 midterm election, MassLive reported.

The attempted intrusions, which Galvin described as amateurish, are directed at parts of the site where voters can look up their polling location, whether they're registered and a way to track their ballot.

They were more likely people looking for personal data to use for opening credit cards.

Galvin downplayed the attempted intrusions, saying they weren't linked to a foreign power.

"We detected minor efforts," Galvin said. "When I say minor, they don't appear professional, or [from] overseas, or anything coordinated. But periodically we have efforts. This is not unusual."

Much of the conversation on election security has been on voting machines, which are notoriously outdated.

"You probably recognize the current ones. They're large. They kind of look like trash cans," said Jordan Esten, the CEO of Clear Ballot, WBUR wrote.

In Boston, a polling location in the South End was shut down Tuesday afternoon Nov. 6, after a suspicious substance was found inside an absentee ballot.

Boston Police and hazmat crews responded to 735 Shawmut Ave at about 4:35 p.m.

The powder was determined to be baking soda and firefighters removed it from the location, CBS Boston reported.

WBZ-TV

“Well what we had was someone put a little baking soda in an absentee ballot,” Boston Fire District Chief Jeff Price said. “Disrupt the voting. So we had to shut the place down, get the hazmat team in there. The police have it now and they’re going to do an investigation on it.”

In Monterey, voter ID dustup leads to questions, confusion, complaint with the state, The Berkshire Eagle wrote.

Elizabeth King said an election worker manning the polls in the town clerk's office at Town Hall told her that in response to an email that morning, workers were instructed to ask voters for an ID, which is against state law, except under a few circumstances.

"I'm disturbed that this could happen in a little tiny town where everybody knows each other," she said.

King wasn't alone. The state is now investigating a complaint filed by Monterey resident Sara Mugridge, who told the Secretary of the Commonwealth's Elections Division that on an early voting day she, too, was instructed to produce an ID before she could vote.

"I am extremely concerned about the misinformation and invitation to bias and harassment that was on display," Mugridge wrote in her complaint.

But Town Clerk Terry Walker said she was simply being conscientious and using the discretion allowed her by the state. She also said there was some confusion from the state about when to ask voters for an ID, and that amid a somewhat chaotic and busy election, she may have misread part of an email from the elections division. She also said new and elderly election workers may have been confused.

"I'm not blaming them — I blame myself," she said. "What I misread was that you had to ask [for ID] if you didn't know the person."

On Nov. 6, the polling place got downright testy when, Walker says, an irate election worker accused her of voter suppression, after which Walker asked the police officer on duty to heighten his watch while she asked the worker to leave.

"One of my election workers was screaming at me and telling me that I was trying to keep these eight people from voting," Walker said. "She got them all riled up."

"It's not a crime for an election worker to ask for an ID if they don't know the person," Walker said. "But one of my election workers got in my face and said, `You cannot stop them from voting.'"

That worker was Patricia Salomon, 78. It was Salomon who prompted Walker to tell the police officer that he might have to intervene, before Salomon left. But Salomon says it wasn't quite that dramatic.

"The officer didn't say a word," she said. "He leaned against the wall and looked at me. [Walker] asked me to leave. I didn't argue."

In Cape May County a lack of “I Voted” stickers at polling places Nov. 6 caused some proud citizens to inquire what happened to the red, white and blue badges. They had appeared on social media during the mid-term elections, Cape May County Herald reported.

Cape May County Clerk Rita Fulginiti said her office received a few emails concerning the stickers.

“The clerk’s office has never handled getting the stickers. They would have to contact the Board of Elections,” Fulginiti said.

However, Cape May County Board of Elections Registrar Michael Kennedy said the county hadn’t purchased the “I Voted” stickers in years.

“I believe the county stopped purchasing the stickers decades ago. It’s up to the municipalities to purchase them if they want to hand them out,” Kennedy said. He added that Ocean City may have passed out the stickers.

Kennedy said he believed it was a cost-cutting measure at the time the badges were eliminated.

According to MassLive, questions have been raised about how younger voters were treated during the first Amherst Town Council election Nov. 6.

Data from the town clerk shows 1,510 fewer people voted in the council races than in the state election that day, a difference of 14%. Two ballots were used. The disparity between the numbers of state and local ballots cast was greatest in precincts with large student populations.

Two newly elected Town Councilors expressed concerns about the process, as did one of the losing candidates, a University of Massachusetts student.

UMass students contacted by reporters said municipal election workers asked them questions and made statements prior to handing them ballots, including saying they didn't have to take town ballots.

The Daily Hampshire Gazette reported Nov. 8 on another UMass student claiming she was not automatically handed the town ballot - with an election worker, according to the student, saying: "You don't need to do it if you don't want to do it."

Cobi Frongilco is a 21-year old graduate student at the university. He said he voted on campus Oct. 24, and there were a half-dozen other students with him.

"I thought it odd someone with the town (elections department) was telling all the students, 'You don't have to take the town ballot,'" Frongilco said in a phone interview. "My first reaction was, that's odd an elderly person expects the students don't know much."

"I heard her interact with a student in front of me. I thought, oh, that's what it's going to be. It wasn't combative, but it was strange, when you heard her say that. ... It seems weird anyone would go into an election booth and not take the ballot," Frongilco said.

He said one friend who was with him decided not to vote in the town election.

Author: USA Really