Athol Daily News – City clerks overwhelmed with requests for tapes

Posted: 09/27/2022 15:03:03

Modified: 09/27/2022 15:02:10

ATHOL – Over the past few weeks, media reports from across the state and nation indicate that town and city clerks have received numerous public records requests demanding information on voting machine tapes, phone numbers series, copies of digital ballots and filenames – everything related to the 2020 election.

Election monitors across the country say the demands pouring in to municipal election officials nationwide are part of a campaign by conspiracy theorists to disrupt preparations for the general election scheduled for Nov. 8.

Athol City Clerk Nancy Burnham told the Athol Daily News her office was among those that received an unusual number of inquiries about the 2020 election.

Asked about her office’s response to inquiries, Burnham said: “It depends on the request. We have 10 days to respond to each request. This means that we have to take the time to research the information that people are asking for. Do we have the documents? Is there anything we need to redact? »

Burnham said responding to requests is definitely a distraction from his office’s other priorities. Over the past few weeks, she said, her office has received 15 or 20 such requests.

“We are extremely busy preparing for the November elections,” she said, “and also preparing for the municipal assembly.”

The Athol town meeting is scheduled for Monday, October 17.

Winchendon Town Clerk Wendy Stevens said she had recently received up to 15 public record requests. In addition to the November election, his office is also trying to prepare for a fall town meeting scheduled for Oct. 24.

“I’m sitting here in Western Mass with our crank wooden ballot box and thinking, ‘I have no idea what this even means,'” said Shutesbury Town Clerk Grace Bannasch, who is sole election official in the city, reportedly told the Boston Globe. “Over the past few weeks I have received so many. They have been so demanding and so broad.

Secretary of State William Galvin and Attorney General Maura Healey are working together on a response to the flood of requests for public records related to the 2020 Commonwealth election.

“These are self-proclaimed vigilantes who think they’re going to come out and protect America,” Galvin told The Globe. “It’s a different radicalism. It’s dangerous because we have an election going on.

At a “Moment of Truth” summit on Aug. 22, My Pillow organizer and chief executive Mike Lindell urged attendees of the live, online event to file public records requests. Lindell, a staunch ally of former President Donald Trump, has for two years touted unsubstantiated claims that the 2020 election was stolen.

Town and city clerks are required by law to respond to every request, regardless of the information sought. Often, the requested documents or items do not even exist.

Many of the documents or items requested in these public records requests often do not exist, and yet clerks are still legally bound to respond to every request, no matter how frivolous.