UPDATE: Elections officials have authorized supervised balloting to take place Tuesday morning at Sycamore.
Sycamore Place Apartments, at 285 Maplewood Avenue, is a senior citizen residential complex on the West Side with Bassick High School as the voting precinct. Of the roughly 100 requests for absentee ballots in the 132nd City Council District as of Thursday, 40 have come from that complex, according to records in the Town Clerk’s Office. And all 40 requests came on the same day. How’d that happen? A political operative surreptitiously entered the building, knocked on doors, and prevailed upon the seniors to sign the absentee ballot applications. Sycamore policy prohibits door-to-door campaigning. A representative of the company that runs the complex is trying to rectify the violation of policy with a request to elections officials to order supervised balloting at Sycamore.
Party-endorsed City Council incumbent Evette Brantley and running partner Rolanda Smith are being challenged by young insurgents Marcus Brown and Kyle Langan in the September 12 Democratic primary. Banking absentee ballots is a rite of passage in city politics, but this brings new meaning to stuffing the ballot box.
According to records in the Town Clerk’s Office, Brantley signed out the absentee ballot applications associated with the Sycamore circulation.
Marcus Brown told OIB “no one from our camp knocked on any doors in 285 Maplewood. From what I understood, that was not allowed.”
State law provides local registrars authority to conduct supervised balloting when 20 absentee ballot applications come from a particular address. It helps to provide a check against campaign operatives trying to manipulate votes by absentee. It also provides an option for electors who filled out an absentee ballot application to vote at their desired designated precinct.
“Notwithstanding any provision of the General Statutes, if a Town Clerk receives twenty (20) or more absentee ballot applications from the same street address in a town, including, not limited to, an apartment building complex, absentee ballots voted by the electors submitting such applications may, at the discretion of the Registrar of Voters of such town, be voted under the supervision of such Registrars of Voters, or their designees in accordance with the same procedures set forth in this section for supervised Absentee Voting at institutions.”
Sheila Garlington, an official with Boston-based Beacon Communities that operates Sycamore, issued this statement to OIB:
“Beacon Communities has a policy regarding “no solicitation,” and therefore, we do not allow anyone to campaign door to door. Unfortunately, if this occurs in the evening, when staff is not present, this cannot be avoided. We allow supervised access to candidates from all parties, without prejudice, to our community room, to meet with our residents. We are aware of this unfortunate situation, and have contacted the registrar’s office in an attempt to rectify this situation. While it is too late to rescind the applications, we are requesting that they be supervised by someone from their office.”
To review how supervised balloting works see here