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March 28, 2013

Editorial: Latest voting case renews questions Essex must answer

By all counts, the Essex Board of Registrars had an easy choice in whether to honor Erica Durie’s request to have her name included on the town’s voting rolls.

Durie, after all, failed to respond to mailings by the town to the Conomo Point address she was trying to pawn off as her primary residence for voting purposes — including the notice that Town Clerk Christina Wright had sent to notify her of Monday’s meeting to discuss her potential eligibility.

But Durie’s request and this latest voting challenge — especially as it applies to the part-time residents of Conomo Point — also renews the question as to what Essex officials are doing to ensure that, when their Annual Town Meeting rolls around May 6, all of those trying to vote are in fact eligible to do so. For with 11 Town Meeting articles dealing directly with Conomo Point issues (see news story, Page 1), it’s especially important for all town leaders and residents alike to go into the meeting confident that those who are voting on these proposals are entitled to do so. And despite Wright’s and others’ best efforts to date, there does not seem to be any such assurance as of now.

It’s been nearly two years now since a group called the Essex Clean Elections Fund, headed by residents Cliff Ageloff, dove headlong into this issue, challenging more than 100 registered Essex voters and finding that dozens were ineligible or simply withdrew their names when questioned. And in at least two confirmed cases, people claiming Essex as their primary residence were found to also be registered elsewhere. Yet the series of hearings looking into a number of those challenges was never completed, with the Clean Elections group backing off due to legal costs and the town not following through on the obviously painstaking process either.

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