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August 15, 2018

Dear Secretary Galvin,

I am writing on behalf of the Jo Comerford for State Senate campaign. As I am sure you know, the primary
race for Democratic candidate for the Hampshire, Franklin, Worcester State Senate District is being vigorously
contested by one registered candidate, Chelsea Kline, and three declared write-in candidates. As absentee voting has
begun, word has swiftly arrived from our voters that there is a significant problem with the paper ballots being used
by the smaller towns in the District. Though required by G.L. c. 54, §42, these ballots contain no space for a write-in
vote. Also, while §42 also specifies that “upon the ballots may be printed such direction as will aid the voter” and
unlike the ballots printed for the optical scanning machines, the paper ballot has been printed with no language
instructing voters where to write in a vote for any given office. We are hearing from early voters that clerks are
telling them to write in our candidate’s name in the very limited space below Kline’s name, but they are finding the
situation confusing. In speaking to local town clerks, we have been assured that they will adhere to the law requiring
them to count all votes that evidence a clear voter intent.

While these efforts may be sufficient to clarify the situation for the limited number of people voting early, we
are very worried that Jo and other write-in candidates will lose votes on an election day that we expect to be very
busy in western Mass due to voter and poll worker confusion. Further exacerbating the problem, the Comerford
campaign has already dedicated significant resources to educating voters and printing materials to familiarize voters
with the ballot as we expected it to be printed and to provide stickers of the appropriate dimensions.

On behalf of the Comerford campaign, and with the needs of the other declared write-in candidates for this
Senate seat in mind, we are requesting that your office remedy the situation. Our first and preferred remedy would
be a reprint of the ballots with spaces for write-in votes as required by G.L. c. 54, §42.1 If that is not possible, we
would ask your office to issue materials explaining how to cast a write-in vote to be distributed with every ballot
and/or signage with that information to be displayed prominently at every polling place.

1 “Blank spaces shall be left at the end of the list of candidates for each different office equal to the number to be
elected thereto, in which the voter may insert the name and address of any person not printed on the ballot for
whom he desires to vote for such office.” G.L. c. 54, §42.

31 Trumbull Road, Ste B, Northampton, MA 01060 (413)341-2131


A Limited Liability Company www.elkinslawllc.com
Obviously, time is of the essence in addressing this problem. I look forward to hearing from your office how
the issue will be handled.

Regards,

Marissa Elkins

cc via email: Margaret Nartowicz, Amherst Town Clerk; Paul Luther, Bernardston Town Clerk; Robin Hartnett,
Colrain Town Clerk; Barbara J. Hancock, Deerfield Town Clerk; Betsy Sicard, Erving Town Clerk; Linda Hodsdon;
Mayo, Gill Town Clerk; Kathryn J. Scott, Greenfield Town Clerk; Jessica Spanknebel, Hadley Town Clerk; Lydia Szych,
Hatfield Town Clerk; Lisa Stratford, Leverett Town Clerk; Nicole Glabach, Leyden Town Clerk; Debra Bourbeau,
Montague Town Clerk; New Salem Town Clerk; Pamela Power, Northampton City Clerk; Dan Campbell, Northfield
Town Clerk; Nancy Blackmer, Orange Town Clerk; Kathleen Martell, Pelham Town Clerk; Melanie A. Mangum,
Royalston Town Clerk; Susan Mosher, Shutesbury Town Clerk; Carlene C. Hamlin, South Hadley Town Clerk;
Wendy Houle, Sunderland Town Clerk; Rosa Fratangelo, Warwick Town Clerk; Gretchen Smith, Wendell Town
Clerk; Lynn M. Sibley, Whately Town Clerk