That divisions remain deep was clear even through yesterday’s recount, when Rivera and his supporters took to the right side of the gym and Lantigua and his camp took to the left, divided by the three registrars. Lantigua and Rivera appeared not even to make eye contact throughout the morning and afternoon.
The distrust between the two sides played out dramatically on the night of the election three weeks ago, when the ballots were placed in 24 sealed cartons — one for each precinct — and stored in a locked vault in the basement of City Hall, where they have been guarded ever since by an around-the clock police watch.
The vault was opened on Friday for the first time since the election — in the presence of police Lt. Sean Conway, City Clerk William Maloney, City Attorney Charles Boddy, observers sent by Secretary of State William Galvin, representatives for Rivera and Lantigua, and members of the team lawyers from the Boston firm the city hired to run the recount — so that the ballots could be organized in a way that would speed the recount and then resealed in their cartons and locked up.
Saturday morning, the same group escorted the ballots in a caravan from City Hall to the middle school, where Conway broke the seals so the ballots could be distributed to about 20 tables, each with one election worker to award each ballot, another to keep a tally and one observer each for Rivera and Lantigua. Of the 15,210 ballots, the observers contested fewer than a half-dozen, which were then awarded by the Board of Registrars.
Secretary of State Galvin dispatched at least five of his own observers to the recount. Among them was Ramon Trinidad, whose report about the “overall chaos” he said he observed in the preliminary election caused Galvin to intensify his focus on the city through the general election and Saturday’s recount. None of the observers would comment Saturday.