SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – A man associated with Springfield mayoral candidate Justin Hurst’s campaign was seen on camera allegedly paying people to vote, something Hurst is denying.
The security camera footage obtained by 22News shows, according to poll workers at Springfield City Hall last Saturday, a campaign volunteer for mayoral candidate Justin Hurst paying people for their votes. Something Hurst strongly denies.
“These accusations are not only insulting to our dedicated campaign supporters but to all residents who are exercising their constitutional rights,” City Councilor Hurst said.
This started last Saturday around 9 a.m. In affidavits obtained by 22News, election workers say they noticed groups of people being dropped off for early voting at City Hall, many listing their address as a homeless shelter in Springfield. Poll workers say the voters came inside, some seemingly intoxicated or under the influence, and confused as to why they were at City Hall.
One of the workers said she saw a man “hovering over some voters’ shoulders while they were standing at the voting booth. At times he appeared to be pointing at the place on the ballot where the person should vote.”
Several workers and a Springfield police officer assigned to work at the election office said they were asked multiple times throughout the day for a $10 payment when someone was done voting.
Outside, another poll worker said she witnessed Hurst’s campaign volunteer handing out cash to some of these voters in exchange for an “I Voted” sticker. Some of those voters then got in an SUV being driven by Hurst.
City Clerk Gladys Oyola-Lopez said she had an elections specialist directly contact the Secretary of State’s office to make their concerns known. The Secretary of State’s office then instructed the election workers in Springfield to contact the City Solicitor Judge John Payne and the Hampden District Attorney Office.
Springfield City Solicitor Judge John Payne told 22News, “What we have done is ask the District Attorney’s Office to begin an investigation. If in fact Mr. Hurst, or anyone, has been paying someone to vote or giving them anything of a gift nature, that’s a violation of the law.”
Again Hurst denies allegations of voter fraud instead saying this is a coordinated effort between incumbent Mayor Domenic Sarno and city employees to steal the election. In a news conference Thursday, Hurst said he hasn’t seen the affidavits but is suggesting that the five election employees and a police officer who gave their sworn statements are lying on behalf of Sarno. The mayor called this all very serious.
“This is very, very upsetting to me and very concerning to me because voting is sacred and we need to continue to protect the integrity of our voting process,” Mayor Domenic Sarno said.
In last month’s primary election, Sarno received 47 percent of the vote, Hurst got 28-percent in a field of five candidates.