Democratic Boston City Councilors Say Postal Worker Threw Away Hundreds Of Mail-In Ballots

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Is there a problem with mail-in voting in the 2021 Boston city election?

Two Democratic city councilors, Ed Flynn and Michael Flaherty, are voicing concerns. They say that a temporary postal carrier threw out mail — including city election ballots. Most of these missing ballots are from District 2, Ward 6 (part of South Boston). It’s unclear how many ballots have gone missing, but it could be somewhere between 200 and 250, the councilors suggested. This includes both filled-out ballots being returned and ballots requested that never showed up.

Flaherty and Flynn are unhappy with the situation.

“The post office is aware of this and has addressed it,” Flaherty, an at-large councilor, told NBC 10 Boston. “Unfortunately, they haven’t notified the city. They have an affirmative responsibility to notify every individual and resident on that route, the Secretary of State’s Office, as well as local law enforcement.”

Flynn, a District 2 councilor whose father, Ray Flynn, served as Boston’s mayor from 1984 to 1993, offered a sharper condemnation.

“It’s criminal, it’s reckless. Men and women have fought for our country and died in many cases for the right for people to vote,” Flynn told NBC10 Boston.

“It is personal when I see veterans or persons with disabilities unable to cast their ballot and their vote is not counted,” he added.

Paul Craney, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance, said that he thinks this incident shows why widespread mail-in voting is a bad idea.

“Let today be a lesson of the inherent problems associated with wide scale vote by mail,” he said in a press release on Monday. “Anytime a voter gives up their ballot to someone that is not an election official, there is a greater chance that ballot will not count compared to voting in person and on Election Day. If you hold your vote as sacred, you should do everything in your power to make sure you hand deliver your completed ballot to the appropriate voting machine or election official.”

The United States Postal Service admits that an employee did dump mail, but denies that any of it was ballot-related.

“The United States Postal Service is committed to fulfilling its role in the electoral process as a secure, efficient, and effective way for citizens to participate when policymakers decide to use mail as part of their elections,” the postal service said in a statement. “The Postal Service has a robust and tested process for proper handling and timely delivery of Election Mail.”

“Regarding mail in South Boston, the Postal Service is aware of allegations of mishandling of mail, including some pieces of Political Mail, by an employee,”  it added. “No Election Mail, specifically ballots or ballot materials, were involved. All campaign mailpieces were recovered and returned to the mainstream. We have requested the involvement of the USPS Office of the Inspector General for investigation and will have no further comment until that investigation is complete.”

Although the Boston mayoral election is expected to be a landslide victory for current at-large city councilor Michelle Wu, missing ballots and disenfranchising voters could make a difference in a tight city council race. In 2019, current at-large city councilor Julia Mejia won an open seat by one vote.

The city of Boston’s elections division could not immediately be reached for comment on Monday.


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