BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — Two Boston city councilors say they are trying to learn the extent of a mail-dumping incident in South Boston that they say may have ended in hundreds not receiving mail-in ballots.
Councilor-at-Large Michael Flaherty told WBZ NewsRadio that complaints about missing mail in District 2 started cropping up about two weeks ago, and started becoming more alarming last week, when some residents still hadn't received mail-in-ballots. The city's municipal election is on Tuesday.
Those constituents were told by their regular USPS Mail Carriers that a fill-in carrier had thrown away their mail, including their mail-in ballots. Flaherty confirmed the story with the carriers themselves.
"There was a temporary, a spare, letter carrier that was filling in for the other letter carriers over the course of five for six weeks covering five different routes, and apparently they caught him throwing ballots and mail into the trash," Flaherty said. "We're confident that this happened. We're confident in our letter carriers that they're telling us the truth," he continued.
Flaherty and Councilor Ed Flynn, who represents District 2, said he was told the carrier threw out the mail to "lighten the load." They said there was a gap of 200 to 250 people especially in District 2, Ward 6 who had returned their mail-in ballots in the preliminary election, but not in the general election.
"Many of these people are elderly, persons with disabilities, or veterans, so it's challenging. If they were anticipating receiving a ballot, it's too late now," Flynn said. Both councilors said they would need to vote in person. Flynn and Flaherty reached out to USPS' management on Friday afternoon and has not heard back yet.
WBZ NewsRadio reached out to the USPS and got a response from Spokesperson Steve Doherty on Sunday afternoon, who said the service is "is aware of allegations of mishandling of mail, including some pieces of Political Mail, by an employee." Doherty insisted that no "Election Mail, specifically ballots or ballot materials, were involved," and that "All campaign mailpieces were recovered and returned to the mailstream." Doherty said the USPS Inspector General's office is investigating.
The Elections Department told WBZ NewsRadio that it had not heard from the USPS about the issue as of Sunday morning, and said anyone without a mail-in ballot by now should vote in-person on Tuesday.
Constituents told the councilors that ballots weren't the only thing missing: some were missing government checks, utility bills, and ad circulars, to name a few things.
WBZ's Shari Small (@ShariSmallNews) spoke with Councilor Flynn: