By: Tom Duggan – August 15, 2013
The Valley Patriot obtained copies of Lawrence mayor Willie Lantigua‘s nomination papers, submitted and certified on April 11, 2013.
Lantigua turned in 30 pages of nomination signatures to have his name appear on the September ballot.
Each candidate for mayor needs to turn in 250 valid signatures from registered voters who reside in the City of Lawrence.
The Lawrence Election department certified 452 signatures as valid, almost double the amount needed.
Among those certified by Lantigua’s election department, however, The Valley Patriot found at least 96 signatures that were obvious forgeries and at least 132 names that were printed instead of signed in cursive as required by state election law.
On one page alone The Valley Patriot found ten different names that the Lawrence Election Department certified as valid but were obviously signed by one voter forging the names of other voters in their own handwriting.
In some cases The Valley Patriot found that one person signed the names of four or five different voters in the same handwriting.
Lawrence City Councilor Marc Laplante said that the illegal names on Lantigua’s nomination papers would not invalidate them, nor would it knock Lantigua off the ballot because no other candidates challenged the signatures prior to the deadline.
“I don’t think this information will impact the election since the time to challenge signatures has passed,” Laplante said.
“Even if the allegations were proven true, the Lantigua supporters will conveniently ignore the revelation and continue to falsely believe that Lantigua is the first mayor in the history of the city that has re-paved roads. Those who find his Administration to be a detriment to progress will not be surprised at another blemish on his watch. For someone who is a grass roots election maestro, if true, he should be embarrassed that his campaign had to resort to this tactic to get his name on the ballot.”
As the photos above show, the forgeries and/or illegal names are clustered together on each sheet and have check marks next to each name showing that they were certified as valid “signatures” by The Lawrence Election Department.
“I am not sure that the election division employees are obligated to alert the board of registrars to apparent irregularities. However, it would be best practice that when they review the nomination papers, they should point out to the board of registrars where there may be irregularities. They owe that to city residents. I am not certain that happened here. Of course, if they were to point out the irregularities regarding Lantigua’s nomination papers, that would certainly be unwelcomed by the mayor and his staff. I think we all know what that might mean.”
The election department in Lawrence is headed by Lantigua appointee and campaign supporter Rafael Tejeda.
Tejeda is no stranger to election shenanigans, he was caught allowing fraudulent signatures once before in an election between Lantigua ally Frank Moran and newcomer Kevin Cuff. Election officials at Secretary of State Bill Galvin’s office did nothing about the obvious fraud found on (now) State Rep. Frank Moran’s nomination papers in 2012. Galvin and Lantigua have long been allies since Lantigua’s days in the Sate Legislature.
“Every voter signing a nomination paper shall sign in person as registered or substantially as registered, and shall state the address where he or she is currently registered.”
The only provision the state law grants for allowing one voter to sign for another is in cases of disability.
“Any voter who is prevented by physical disability from writing may authorize some person to write his or her name and residence in his or her presence.”
Each nomination sheet comes with a warning “Criminal penalty for unlawfully signing, altering, defacing, mutilating, destroying, or suppressing this petition : fine of up to $1,000 or imprisonment for up to one year.”
Mayor Lantigua did not return phone calls for this story.
Lantigua Nomination Sheets with Illegal Signatures
LANTIGUA NOMINATION PAPERS
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