City Councillor Joseph A. DeGuglielmo '29 yesterday called on the Cambridge Board of Election Commissioners to launch an immediate investigation of alleged absentee ballot tampering in next Tuesday's municipal election.
In a letter to the Commission, DeGuglielmo specifically requests that since the notary who allegedly handled a disputed ballot has also handled many other absentee ballots, the Commission should "re-submit all ballots notarized by this individual to the original voters for inspection and verification."
"As far as I am concerned, Mr. Hartnett (Thomas J. Hartnett, Secretary of the Election Commission) knows who the notary is," DeGuglielmo told the CRIMSON yesterday. He added: "The Clerk of Courts knows who he is."
(Middlesex County Clerk of Courts is Councillor Edward J. Sullivan, brother of candidate Walter J. Sullivan. An affidavit submitted Thursday to the County District Attorney's office stated that a shut-in woman's first place vote for councillor DeGuglielmo had been changed to a first place vote for Walter J. Sullivan. The statement also said a man with an artificial right hand came to the woman's apartment and claimed to be a notary public sent by the Election Commission.)
Commission Duty Bound
"Anybody who's ever had anything to do with politics knows who the guy with the bum arm is," Councillor DeGuglielmo said. He thought the Election Commission was duty-bound to give the voters an honest election, and that it should check all ballots notarized by this person to see if they have in fact been altered.
Election law requires an absentee voter to seal his ballot in an envelope, which is then notarized. This envelope is placed in an outer envelope, which is also sealed. DeGuglielmo said he proposed to the Commission that it open these outer envelopes, identify the notarizer, and if a ballot has been notarized by the man in question, then the Commission should tell each absentee voter there may have been some tampering with his ballot.
Should the voter request an inspection, DeGuglielmo wants one to be conducted. Should the voter not desire an inspection, he said, then the Commission should place the inner envelope back in the outer one.
When reached for comment, Hartnett cited an opinion by City Solicitor Richard Gerould that such action was against the law, which states that ballots should be left unopened. Hartnett said the election division of the Secretary of State's office supports this opinion.
Hartnett said people at the State House told him that the ballots could not be opened without a court order. DeGuglielmo said earlier that the Commission need not follow his specific suggestions, but unless it took some constructive measures to investigate the allegations, he might seek an immediate writ of mandamus against the Commission. He added he would not wait until Monday, when the City Council has its regular meeting.
DeGuglielmo maintained that the Commission could within the bounds of state law, open the outer envelope, and could then ask the individual voter if he wanted his ballot inspected.
Police Will Assist
He also told of conversations with Cambridge Chief of Police Daniel J. Brennan, who agreed to assist in any way in uncovering a possible fraud, including stationing a police officer around the clock at the Election Commission office.
Meanwhile, Neil Colicchio, Assistant District Attorney of Middlesex County, also assigned by his office to investigate the charges, reported that the State Police were still investigating the case Friday. He said they were trying to get more information "with respect to further ballots."