Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin said he is taking over all election-related activities from the clerk's office in the Western Massachusetts town of East Longmeadow. The move follows allegations of widespread voter fraud.

Galvin will strip oversight from the town clerk and send an election monitor to oversee all voting in East Longmeadow on primary day, which is Sept. 6. “My concern is going forward to make sure the election is properly administered to protect the integrity of the election but also the rights of voters,” he said.

Galvin said an employee in the town clerk’s office allegedly changed the party affiliation of hundreds of registered voters from Democrat to Republican without their knowledge, and then cast absentee ballots on their behalf.

“There was effort here to steal voters' identities by enrolling them in different political parties and then applying for absentee ballots for them. This is like identity theft in a financial context. This is just as bad if not worse because people are trying to steal an election. The objective here was to cast fraudulent ballots. That’s pretty extreme,” he said.

Republican Jack Villamaino is locked in a tight primary race for state representative. According to the Boston Globe, a friend of Villamaino’s who works in the East Longmeadow town clerk’s office is suspected of having changed the registrations in the office computers after work hours.

Galvin said state officials were tipped off to the voter fraud when hundreds of residents in the town suddenly changed party registration.

"In Massachusetts every local clerk’s office can only make changes in party enrollment through our central voter registry. That is to say every clerk’s office is assigned a user code and there’s a central voter registry. We were able to go into the central user registry and document what appeared to be unusual irregular activity," he said.

Galvin's office sent letters asking those voters to confirm that they had authorized these party changes. "They responded of course they had not, nor had they requested any absentee ballots. At that point we knew we had a problem."

The case has been referred to the Hampden County district attorney.