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Postcards for voters found in Cambridge trash can

The mailers intended for registered voters didn’t make it to their Cambridge mailboxes.Joe Martins

The postmaster in Cambridge and the US Postal Service are investigating after a resident said he found a stack of informational mailers intended for registered voters dumped in a trash bin at his apartment complex Monday.

Resident Joe Martins said he was shocked, given recent rumors of voter fraud and suppression, to find the bundle of double-sided postcards from the Cambridge Election Commission just sitting in the trash in his building on Glassworks Avenue.

Even more unsettling, he said, was that the stacks of notices, sent by city officials voluntarily to each registered voter in Cambridge to assist them in locating appropriate polling places, were addressed to residents that didn’t even live there.

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“This seems intentional,” said Martins. “They were just bundled with a rubber band and just thrown, all as one, in the trash.”

Martins said he contacted the city Election Commission and the US Postal Service this week, to alert them.

He said because Cambridge is a transient city, some people may be new to the area and not know where to go on Nov. 8, the day of the presidential election.

“It’s not like a local pizza or burger place sending you one of those coupons,” said Martins, who also didn’t receive a mailer of his own. “It’s more likely than not that someone tampered with [the stack].”

Lee Gianetti, a spokesman for the city, said the Election Commission has spoken with Cambridge’s postmaster about the dumped bundle, and that they are investigating the matter.

Gianetti said the postcards, which show voters’ names and direct them to a precise polling location, are mailed out by city officials prior to Election Day.

The cards are part of the Election Commission’s efforts to raise awareness on voting, he said, but in no way impact anyone’s ability to actually go out and vote.

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He said Cambridge uses a vendor to make and deliver the cards to the post office, before they are then mailed out.

“The City is disappointed that the Postal Service failed to deliver on mailing services that we purchased,” Gianetti said in a statement to the Globe. “The Election Commission is dedicated to protecting the integrity of the electoral process, and ensuring that no one who is qualified to vote be denied the right and opportunity to do so.”

Stephen Doherty, a spokeman for the USPS, said the election items were collected and redistributed by the Cambridge post office Wednesday, following Martins’s complaint.

“These actions — which are now under investigation — are not consistent with, and do not represent the values of, the Postal Service organization and will not be tolerated,” Doherty said. “We will cooperate fully and will take all appropriate actions based on the results of the investigation to ensure that the integrity and values of our organization are upheld.”

Martins, a native of Cambridge, said he’s glad the situation is being taken care of, but would have preferred, in an election season where so much hangs in the balance, if “people just did their job.”

“I’m not trying to sound like Bill Belichick here,” he said. “But I think it’s important when it comes to any election. And it makes you wonder what other things are missing.”


Steve Annear can be reached at steve.annear@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @steveannear.