To the editor:
I wish to respond to Alison Breyer's letter (the Times, Monday, April 2) in which she characterized the voter challenges and residency questions we have raised as "misguided" and, secondly, address a comment made in the April 9 Times story regarding the issues of Conomo Point.
First, and for the record, Ms. Breyer's claim that I allegedly informed the Gloucester Daily Times that Stephen Hartley was registered to vote and voted in Florida is untrue, as the Times will confirm. At no time did I ever communicate any information to the paper regarding Mr. Hartley's voting record, or indicate he voted in Florida.
To date, however, since we mounted our voter challenges, 47 non-residents have been removed from the Essex voter rolls voluntarily or through the formal challenge process.
What is clear from our efforts thus far is that voter fraud based on false claims of residency is a problem in Essex, particularly among summer residents with lease restrictions on their occupancy.
When the Gloucester Daily Times writes that "some Essex residents claim that Conomo Point residents are voting illegally in Essex town meetings," it should be noted that this "claim" is in fact, true.
In light of that truth, we will be challenging more irregularly registered voters in the days to come. Ultimately we hope to usher in new administrative policies in town that will properly and methodically enforce existing residency laws so that future challenges will not be needed.
When it was readily discovered that some were indeed voting in two states and others had full residency in other communities, the questions we raised of voter qualification were legitimate inquiries.
When facts exposed several prominent summer residents as voting in two states, it became clear other specious residency claims were worthy of review. Readily available public records exposed the lie of many residency claims and the subsequent removal of voters was a victory for all legitimate voters.
With all due respect to Ms. Breyer's protests, people who were indeed found to be hiding their true residency were rightfully removed from voting.
Our efforts, past and present, are not at all misguided since most Essex residents have no problem with the truth, something we will continue to pursue and illegally registered voters will continue to try and hide from.
The bigger political question is why do so many summer residents' willingly misrepresent their true domiciles. How and why did this practice become part of our town's culture?
Those who commit voter fraud are misguided, not those who point it out.
Addison Street, Essex