Police officer Paul Nikola testified on Monday that he was dispatched by Chief AJ Perez to assist Democratic Town Chair Mario Testa with picking up absentee ballots in the Democratic primary for City Council in the North End 133rd District. Testa is a supporter of party-endorsed Michael DeFilippo, a bartender at the chairman’s restaurant. DeFilippo was the vote leader in the primary, but the results are being challenged by opponent Bob Keeley based on absentee ballot voting. Can a police officer pick up and deliver absentee ballots? Yes, according to state law, under certain circumstances.
Sec. 9-140b. (Formerly Sec. 9-146). Return of absentee ballots. Possession of ballots and envelopes restricted. (a) An absentee ballot shall be cast at a primary, election or referendum only if: (1) It is mailed by (A) the ballot applicant, (B) a designee of a person who applies for an absentee ballot because of illness or physical disability, or (C) a member of the immediate family of an applicant who is a student, so that it is received by the clerk of the municipality in which the applicant is qualified to vote not later than the close of the polls; (2) it is returned by the applicant in person to the clerk by the day before a regular election, special election or primary or prior to the opening of the polls on the day of a referendum; (3) it is returned by a designee of an ill or physically disabled ballot applicant, in person, to said clerk not later than the close of the polls on the day of the election, primary or referendum; (4) it is returned by a member of the immediate family of the absentee voter, in person, to said clerk not later than the close of the polls on the day of the election, primary or referendum; (5) in the case of a presidential or overseas ballot, it is mailed or otherwise returned pursuant to the provisions of section 9-158g; or (6) it is returned with the proper identification as required by the Help America Vote Act, P.L. 107-252, as amended from time to time, if applicable, inserted in the outer envelope so such identification can be viewed without opening the inner envelope. A person returning an absentee ballot to the municipal clerk pursuant to subdivision (3) or (4) of this subsection shall present identification and, on the outer envelope of the absentee ballot, sign his name in the presence of the municipal clerk, and indicate his address, his relationship to the voter or his position, and the date and time of such return. As used in this section, “immediate family” means a dependent relative who resides in the individual’s household or any spouse, child or parent of the individual.
(b) As used in this section and section 9-150c, “designee” means (1) a person who is caring for the applicant because of the applicant’s illness or physical disability, including but not limited to, a licensed physician or a registered or practical nurse, (2) a member of the applicant’s family, who is designated by an absentee ballot applicant and who consents to such designation, or (3) if no such person consents or is available, then a police officer, registrar of voters, deputy registrar of voters or assistant registrar of voters in the municipality in which the applicant resides.
Testa’s use of city police officers, although unusual to many, is not unconventional to his electioneering way of thinking. Back in the day he had a mailman on his town committee, also handy for absentee ballot collection.