Marblehead town clerk acknowledges not ordering enough ballots

In response to an inquiry from the Elections Division of the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s Office, Marblehead Town Clerk Robin Michaud has acknowledged that her office violated G.L.c. 54, §45 by not ordering at least one ballot for each registered voter for the June 21 town election.

“This will never happen again,” Michaud vowed in her response to the Elections Division, sent June 27.

Michaud assured that, in the future, her office would make sure to order one ballot for every registered voter in the town, regardless of their status.

Debra O’Malley, spokesperson for the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s Office, said that G.L.c. 54, §45 does not contain any specific penalty for violations, but it authorizes the office to investigate violations and order elections officials to take certain actions to comply with the law.

These actions typically involve additional training and resources but in extreme cases can involve putting someone in the office to oversee the administration of elections, O’Malley added.

O’Malley said that the office’s director of elections has asked Michaud to supplement her response with a narrative regarding the distribution of the photocopied substitute ballots and the instructions given to poll workers for hand counting those ballots.

In response to the Elections Division’s questions, Michaud explained that, as of today, there are 16,287 registered voters in Marblehead, 14,814 of them active and 1,473 inactive.

In the 2020 municipal election, 4,648 residents voted, with every voter receiving vote-by-mail applications. In the 2021 municipal election, 4,560 voters cast ballots.

Michaud reported that she ordered 5,500 ballots for the 2022 municipal election.

“I am not sure what happened,” Michaud wrote. “I was sure I ordered more.”

According to the town’s unofficial election results, 5,845 voters participated in the June 21 election.

Participation in state and national elections has historically been higher than in town elections, Michaud reported.

In the 2020 presidential primaries, 7,770 residents voted, and 7,239 voted in the 2020 state primaries.

A total of 14,343 residents then voted in the 2020 state election, and every voter again received an application to vote by mail, Michaud reported.

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