GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

March 27, 2013

Essex strikes another name from voting rolls

By James Niedzinski
Staff Writer

---- — ESSEX — The town’s Board of Registrars has stricken the name of another part-time Conomo Point Road resident from the town’s voting rolls.

The Registrars agreed Monday that Erica Durie, formerly of Conomo Point Road was not eligible to vote in the coming Annual Town Meeting or the Annual Town Election.

Durie was 26 when her voting rights were first brought into question in September of 2011. At that time, Durie and her family members were called in for an informal hearing to determine if Durie could register to vote in Essex.

The registrars found that Durie, along with her family members were not qualified to vote in Essex. Her father, Eric had declared his homestead in Andover, while mail that was sent by Essex officials in August 2011 was soon returned to the town and Durie spends less than half of the year living in town.

During the hearing in 2011, Durie said she was a college student who commuted from Essex and had an Essex library card, but most of her mail was forwarded to her parents’ Andover address and had her drivers license registered out of Andover as well.

More recently, Durie appealed that finding — but has failed to provide any new documentation or evidence that would reinstate her as an Essex voter, and has not responded to any mailings, officials said.

Town Clerk Christina Wright said the town has repeatedly tried to make contact with Durie at the Essex address to inform her of upcoming paperwork deadlines and the Monday meeting, but there was no additional paperwork and Durie herself did not come to the Board of Registrars meeting.

“We have no indication anything has changed,” registrar Vicki Cataldo said.

The striking of Durie from the town’s voting rolls is the latest in a series of such actions over the last two years.

Wright said that anyone can file a challenge to a voter’s eligibility, but that the board merely follows up on those complaints and makes a formal decision after reviewing both sides of any complaint. In 2011, however, a citizens group calling itself the Essex Clean Elections Fund challenged more than 100 registered town voters, and more than 20 were found to be ineligible or withdrew their names. Almost all of those challenged were seasonal residents of Conomo Point.

In order to register to vote in a municipality, a resident needs to display their voting area is the center of the civic, social and political life. But the issue of voter registration brought Essex officials to meet with state Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr, who filed legislation earlier this year that would create a committee to examine better ways to establish someone’s registered voting home.

According to the Salem Registry of Deeds, The Durie family bought their house from the town at Conomo Point Road for more than $160,000.

Wright said Tuesday she plans to mail the appropriate computer-generated letters of rejection to both Durie’s Essex and Andover addresses.

James Niedzinski can be reached at 978-283-7000, x 3455 or at jniedzinski@gloucestertimes.com.