[Reprinted from the Boston Globe. Original article here.]
January 2, 2013 | By Martine Powers, Globe Staff
An Everett state representative who reportedly agreed to plead guilty to misdemeanor charges of voter fraud has officially vacated his seat in the Massachusetts House of Representatives.
Representative Stephen “Stat” Smith, a Democrat first elected in 2006, submitted a letter Monday to Secretary of State William F. Galvin, saying that he was vacating his seat, effective Jan. 1.
The letter, just a few sentences long, did not make any mention of the charges that were brought against him. It will be read aloud at Wednesday’s legislative session.
Smith, 57, did not return a phone call to his home or respond to e-mail requests for comment Tuesday afternoon.
Federal prosecutors allege that Smith submitted fraudulent absentee ballots in advance of municipal and state elections in 2009 and 2010.
According to a Dec. 20 statement from the US attorney’s office, Smith allegedly submitted fraudulent requests for absentee ballots, then cast those ballots on behalf of voters without their knowledge. Prosecutors say Smith also knowingly delivered absentee ballots to ineligible voters, knowing that their votes in his favor would be fraudulent.
Smith was charged with two misdemeanor counts of deprivation of rights under color of law. He faces up to two years in prison, and prosecutors will recommend a 6-month sentence, according to his plea agreement, which also requires that he vacate his seat in the Legislature and prohibits him from seeking another elected office for the next five years.
Galvin said he is also trying to determine any other officials who may have been involved before a special election is scheduled. The December statement from the US attorney’s office said “one or more government officials assisted Smith in intercepting the ballots prior to their delivery to the voters’ addresses.”
“Obviously I’m very interested in this,” Galvin said. “If there is an issue of any illegal activity in Everett, I want to know the details before there’s another election involving Everett.”
Galvin said his office has received little information on who those government officials were, and to what extent they were involved in the fraud.
Galvin said officials in the US attorney’s office have said that details about accomplices will not come out until after Smith enters his guilty plea, and did not give a timeline for when that will happen. Galvin said he is pushing for federal prosecutors to clarify the involvement of any other public officials — whether they be election officials or elected leaders — in advance of the vote for a new Everett representative.
Though the US attorney’s office has not revealed details about the scope of the voter fraud, Galvin said his office has conducted statistical reviews of election results that suggest the number of fraudulent absentee ballots submitted by Smith or his allies was “certainly more than dozens, maybe as many as hundreds.”
In Wednesday’s State House session, legislators will discuss a potential timeline for a special election to fill Smith’s seat. Galvin said he is pushing for a primary to take place in early March and for the special election to be scheduled for early April, so a new representative will be in place in time for state budget negotiations.
Legislators will also work to determine a schedule for a special election in Peabody to find a successor for Representative Joyce Spiliotis, who died in November.Share