A defiant Lawrence Mayor William Lantigua refused to admit defeat yesterday after a recount confirmed City Council Vice President Daniel Rivera is the city’s new chief executive, but one expert said it will be an uphill battle if Lantigua chooses to challenge the results in court. “I am not conceding,” Lantigua said after the results were announced. Rivera won by 81 votes — a wider margin than on Election Day — after the city’s Board of Registrars certified the results in which he tallied 7,628 votes to Lantigua’s 7,547. Rivera’s supporters erupted in loud cheers at the South Lawrence East Middle School after the votes were announced, but Lantigua, whose administration has been dogged by scandals, said he’s considering a legal challenge. “There were … from what I hear … more than 100 of what is called spoiled ballots,” Lantigua said. “It is perhaps a coincidence that most of those that were reviewed, they were all cast for Lantigua.”
A spoiled ballot is one determined by election officials at the polls as invalid, for any number of reasons. Lawrence city attorney Charles Boddy said 100 spoiled ballots might exist, but “when a ballot is determined to be spoiled, the voter gets a new ballot.”
Asked if he’d go to court to challenge the recount, Lantigua said, “I don’t know yet.”
Sal Tabit, Lantigua’s lawyer, said they would take some time to evaluate the next step. “He wants to confer with counsel over the next 24 hours and make a determination of what is prudent,” Tabit said.
Lantigua has the option of appealing to a Superior Court judge to examine the ballots in question, said Suffolk University emeritus law professor Joseph P. McEttrick, an elections law expert. But, he said disputed ballots in most elections tend to favor no one candidate.