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TALKING POLITICS
Voting records
BY SETH GITELL

Former secretary of labor Robert Reich has taken heat for failing to vote in recent elections. (See " Tolmanís Quest, " in News and Features). But Reich isnít the only gubernatorial candidate to have missed an election or two in his time.

Much was made about Republican nominee Mitt Romneyís voting record when Democrats challenged his Massachusetts residency. For evidence that Romney was indeed a state resident, his supporters pointed to the fact that the GOP gubernatorial candidate voted in the 2000 presidential primary and general election, even while toiling in Salt Lake City on the 2002 Winter Olympics. But computerized voting records kept since 1996 show that Romney has missed a total of seven local and state elections, according to Belmont Town Hall. (April 1, 1996; April 7, 1997; July 20, 1999; April 3, 2000; September 19, 2000; April 2, 2001; and May 22, 2001).

"His voting record is his voting record," says Romney campaign spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom. "Heís voted in local, state, and presidential elections ó including the time he was out in Salt Lake City. Did he vote in all of them? No. But he voted in most of them."

Treasurer Shannon OíBrien even missed a vote in her time. For OíBrien, it was a May 19, 2001, town election in Whitman, according to records. "I canít confirm it or deny it, but if thatís what Town Hall is telling you, they donít usually mess it up," says spokesman Adrian Durban. "Shannonís usually very good about making sure that she votes."

City records appear to indicate that Tom Birmingham missed only a September 23, 1997, local election in Chelsea. According to spokesman Angus McQuilken, whose story checked out with Chelsea City Hall, "It was limited to residents of District Three. Tom Birmingham lives in District One and was not eligible to vote in that election."

As for Clean Elections candidate Warren Tolman? Like Birmingham, heís never missed a vote.

Issue Date: August 29 - September 5, 2002
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