Chinatown Group Alleges Voter Intimidation In District 2 Race

Armed with affidavits from several residents of apartment buildings, housing mostly the elderly, in the Chinatown Section of Boston, which is part of the District 2 City Council seat, the Chinese Progressive Association claims evidence of voting violations with absentee ballots by persons affiliated with Candidate Michael Kelley, including a city employee.

It is noted that the Association has endorsed Candidate Ed Flynn, but the Association, some fourteen years ago during the previous administration, helped to settle a Department of Justice lawsuit dealing with similar violations that took advantage of the language barrier that existed. As a result, bilingual ballots and other voter rights initiatives became standard practice.

Statements taken from the affidavits include the following:

“On or about October 19, a woman unknown to me ‘helped’ me apply for an absentee ballot. I did not know that it was an application for an absentee ballot, but I was told that I would get a yellow envelope. About two days later, the same woman along with another man came back to my apartment. They took my yellow envelope and told me to sign my name on the yellow envelope. Later, I found out that I was asked to sign an absentee ballot application and they took my absentee ballot. I did not see my ballot or mark the ballot. I was only asked to sign the envelope.”

Inquiries were made by South Boston Today to both the City and the Secretary of State’s office. The City election department referred our reporter to the Mayor’s press office, who responded as follows –

‘the Election Department at the City of Boston has received several complaints through the Chinese Progressive Association related to absentee voting in the Chinatown neighborhood. The Election Department has spoken to each voter and will be conducting outreach efforts to ensure that all voters are aware of their rights. This includes sending a mailing to every voter who requested an absentee ballot in Ward 3 Precinct 8, and Ward 5 Precinct 1. This notice will provide information on available voting options and share a telephone line that the Election Department established for voters to contact the City of Boston in English or Chinese. Additionally, the Election Department will be scheduling information sessions to be held in the buildings where these complaints originated. These sessions will likely occur on Thursday, November 2nd. Absentee ballots at these precincts will not be processed until the end of the day on Election Day in order to give those voters an opportunity to either send a signed request to spoil their ballot or vote at the polls, if they so choose.’

The Secretary of State’s press office, when first asked about any communication on this matter with the City of Boston, had indicated they were ‘not aware’ but would inquire and get back to our reporter. The office did call back and indicated that they called the City, which acknowledged the complaint by the Chinese Progressive Association but had not heard from individual voters. This would seem to conflict with the protocol of the City for following up, especially given the availability of affidavits in the possession of the Association. The City also maintains that it had informed the Secretary of State’s office.

In the final analysis, these alleged violations should be taken very seriously and the complaints either found with merit or otherwise. If so, voters should be issued new ballots and those compromised ballots discarded.