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Mazzeo Claims Irregularities as Reason for Mayoral Recount

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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The mayoral election recount on Monday starts at 8:30 a.m. with more than a dozen election workers counting nearly 12,000 votes by hand. 
 
The recount is being requested by Melissa Mazzeo, who lost the hard fought race against Linda Tyer by 529 votes on Nov. 5. 
 
Mazzeo's petition for the hand count of ballots listed access to the ballots by unauthorized persons as a main reason. On Friday, she released a statement further detailing that allegation. 
 
Her statement claims an "individual closely related to the Tyer Campaign" was the person with access to the ballots and that "numerous voters complained about this individual to us."
 
Mazzeo said her campaign contacted the state Elections Division to report this issue. Another individual reported that their name had been marked as voted  when they had not in fact cast a ballot. This person was unable to vote, according to Mazzeo's statement. 
 
And a third issue she raised was the "abnormally high amounts of absentee ballots" in this election. 
 
City Clerk Michele Benjamin told NEPR that the absentee ballots are secured in the vault and that no unauthorized persons would have access to them. However, she also said the number of absentees was higher than usual at about 250 than the last election. 
 
"After speaking with state elections officials and legal counsel, my campaign went through the formal process of requesting a recount in Pittsfield in order to ensure that all votes were accurately counted and all voters had their voices heard. This is not a decision that I took lightly," Mazzeo said in her statement. "However, I have been advised that it is a necessary step in the process that keeps all viable options open to address the significant concerns my campaign has about the integrity of the election here in Pittsfield. Leading up to and including Election Day, we were informed of a series of events that we believe must be investigated."
 
The last mayoral recount was in 2009 during another bitter election between James Ruberto and Daniel Bianchi. Ruberto had won election night by a margin of  209 votes out of 13,215 cast; the recount only reduced the margin by two votes in Bianchi's favor. In 2011, Peter Marchetti declined to pursue a recount against Bianchi, who won the corner office that year by only 113 votes.  
 
Benjamin said she hoped to have the recount concluded in one day. The 2009 recount, with a 1,000 more votes than 2019, took about six hours. Both mayoral candidates will have observers at the counting that will take place in City Council Chambers. 

Tags: election 2019,   recount,   


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PCTV Documentary Finds Pittsfield Parade Dates Back to 1801

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Pittsfield Community Television's recently released documentary "Fighting For Independence:  The History of the Pittsfield Fourth of July Parade" has traced the first Pittsfield Fourth of July Parade back to at least 1801.  

An article in the Pittsfield Sun from July 7, 1801, says that "at 12:00 o’ clock at noon a Procession was formed consisting of the Militia of the town."

Previously the Pittsfield Parade Committee acknowledged that the parade dated back to 1824.

"This was a fascinating discovery, as we researched to put this documentary together," said Bob Heck, PCTV’s coordinator of advancement and community production and executive producer of the program.  "Not only were we able to trace the parade back further than ever before, but to see how the parade has impacted Pittsfield, and how the community always seems to come together to make sure the parade happens is remarkable."

The Pittsfield Fourth of July parade experienced bumps in the road even back in the early 1800s - most notably, when Captain Joseph Merrick, a Federalist, excluded Democrats from the yearly post-parade gathering at his tavern in 1808.

The parade ran concurrently from at least 1801 until 1820. In 1821, Pittsfield’s spiritual leader Dr. Rev. Heman Humphrey, canceled the festivities so the day could be dedicated to God before resuming in 1822 after residents decided they wanted their parade.

"Fighting for Independence: The History of the Pittsfield Fourth of July Parade" premiered July 4 at 9:30 am on PCTV Access Pittsfield Channel 1301 and PCTV Select.  The program is available on-demand on PCTV Select, available on Roku and Apple TV, or online.

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