• Oversight urged for Lawrence elections


    FOX UNDERCOVER - There's a new call for action in the wake of a FOX Undercover report about non-citizens registered to vote in Lawrence.

    Lawrence activist John "Jack" Wilson, who is also running for an open Registry of Deeds seat, tried to meet with Secretary of State William Galvin and his top election officer on Monday at the State House to ask him to increase oversight in Lawrence when the polls open on Tuesday.

    Wilson said he was concerned that more non-citizens are registered to vote than the four identified by FOX Undercover.

    "I only need to look at what's been reported by you and the work that you've done to show that is indeed the case," Wilson told FOX Undercover reporter Mike Beaudet.

    FOX Undercover found four non- citizens registered to vote. Because it's so hard to find out who is and isn't a citizen, we were only able to check a few dozen names of non-citizens against Lawrence voter rolls.

    No one knows how many non-citizens are in Lawrence, but considering we found four out of just a few dozen, it is likely many more non-citizens are among the 36,000 registered voters in Lawrence.

    More questions about elections integrity are being raised by the Eagle-Tribune, which reported Sunday that a Lawrence election official forged signatures to help get a candidate on the ballot.

    "What do you want the Secretary of State to do?" Beaudet asked Wilson, who was also active in the effort to recall Lawrence Mayor Willie Lantigua.

    "I think immediately intervene. Go in, open up every drawer, every filing cabinet, every closet in city hall in Lawrence which is a closed shop, there's no transparency and shed the light of day on what's going on there," Wilson said.

    Neither Galvin nor his election official would meet with Wilson. But at a press conference on Monday, Galvin blamed the Registry of Motor Vehicles for the problem because that's where the four that FOX Undercover found registered to vote.

    "It has led us to contact the Registry to review our procedures with the Registry, but I think it would be a mistake to suggest there are many other people there. In fact, I think your own station's investigation has pointed out that there were no other persons found or none that you told us about," Galvin said.

    While Galvin downplays the problem, knowing the extent of the issue is difficult without access to confidential immigration information that can be used to check the list of registered voters.

    As for the Registry of Motor Vehicles, a spokeswoman says it's now reminding its customer service representatives to make sure paperwork is filled out properly.

    But while activists in Lawrence are promising to be watching the polls, Galvin warned against intimidation at the polls, where activists from one campaign try and keep legitimate voters from casting ballots.

    That's one of many concerns of Common Cause Massachusetts, a non-partisan group that believes in honest and open government.

    "We've had some problems. On primary day in Worcester, there was a lot of controversy over excessive challenges, over inappropriate information written on the sidewalk, about the requirement to show a photo ID to vote, that is actually not the case in Massachusetts," Wilmot said.

    Wilmot said there was also some "intimidating" practices in Worcester.

    Common Cause will have 400 people monitoring voting in places across the state, including Lawrence.

    "There also was some intimidating practices. We've seen problems at times in other communities, running out of ballots, and therefore long lines, we've had trouble with translation services, so we're far from an Ohio, where I actually was in 2008, but we do need to keep an eye on it," Wilmot said.

    There is also a hotline run by the Election Protection Coalition that can be called by people witnessing or experiencing any problems at the polls: 866-OUR-VOTE.

    RELATED: Non-citizens registered to vote in Lawrence, but officials shrug

    Next Up: