STRONG — Two local women were accused this week of pressuring townspeople to vote by absentee ballot and to vote for the women’s choice of candidate.

Michael Pond, running for re-election to the Board of Selectmen, said Barbara Worthley and Mary White had been campaigning to get people to vote for candidates other than Pond. The women encouraged voters to use absentee ballots to support other candidates.

Local absentee balloting closed Monday afternoon.

The annual town election will be held from 1 to 6 p.m. Friday. Town meeting is scheduled for Saturday.

“A concerned citizen told me Worthley and White had visited him to try to get him to vote by absentee ballot,” Pond said. “The individual had to tell them twice he didn’t want to.”

Pond spoke with Town Clerk Betsy DuBois about it, without naming the man who claimed Worthley and White had tried to influence his vote.

The voter later received a letter of apology from Worthley.

“I am writing this letter to apologize for the ‘voter intimidation’ that apparently happened while we were there,” Worthley wrote. “As soon as you voiced your opinion, the conversation stopped for me. … I thought we had agreed to disagree. Having been told afterwards that we intimidated you makes me sad. … I am sorry that our visit turned into something I regret.”

Pond said he was distributing town reports Sunday when he was told of a similar occurrence.

“A lady told me Worthley and White confronted her and told her she should vote, get an absentee ballot,” Pond said. “She did, and while she was filling it out, they were telling her how she should vote. The lady asked me what to do. I told her she needed to report it to the town clerk.”

DuBois confirmed Tuesday the woman had spoken with her.

“She made me aware she felt uncomfortable,” DuBois said. “I try to keep an eye out, but we were very busy that day. I apologized. She said she voted the way she intended to. She seemed satisfied (and) was OK when she left the office.”

Worthley said Wednesday afternoon that her husband, Richard, had resigned as chairman of the Board of Selectman because of the dishonesty of others.

“I decided I would get absentee ballots so it couldn’t happen again,” Worthley said. “I worked with Mary White, as I don’t know anyone in town. I don’t condone dishonesty. I do not take advantage of people.

“We’ve done nothing wrong. If people wanted to vote for Mike Pond, that is fine. I would never try to get someone to change their vote.”

 

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