EAST LONGMEADOW, Mass (WGGB) — There’s just one Republican primary in East Longmeadow next month.
Marie Angelides and Jack Villamaino are vying for a Massachusetts State Representative seat.
Secretary of State Bill Galvin says his office will be running the election. That’s because fraud has found way into the race.
Experts say in a State Representative race, there’s often 30-45 absentee ballots that are filed. This summer, there’s been more than 400.
Galvin confirms that hundreds of the applications were never filled out by voters; somebody forged the applications and even changed the political parties of Democrats to Republican so they would receive an absentee ballot in the mail. The Boston Globe reports it’s widely believed the Villamaino’s campaign and an East Longmeadow clerk’s office employee are behind the scheme.
“I have had a substantial amount of experience in running elections. I cannot recall a single instance where i saw such a brazen effort to steal the rights or identities of voters, to change their party enrollments and in effect to steal their ballots,” Galvin said.
“I’m disheartened to see that in the political process,” former State Representative and District Court Judge Robert Howarth said.
Howarth is a consultant to the Angelides campaign. He says volunteers called many voters to ask if they were aware they had filed absentee applications.
“We spent 2 hours on the phone. Called 37 people. 33 of whom said ‘we don’t know what your talking about,’” he said.
That’s when officials were alerted, Galvin got involved. He says fake absentee applications will be destroyed and voters’ political parties will be restored.
“We are committed to the integrity of the electoral process. Voters have nothing to fear,” Galvin says. “There votes will in fact be protected and counted. We will take appropriate action and make sure that occurs directly from my office.”