The Coakley campaign claims that a "serious violation" has taken place in the Massachusetts election, calling into question the validity of the election results even before the tally is in.

In a prepared statement, the campaign took issue with pre-marked ballots being given to voters, claiming that in five instances they were marked in favor of Republican candidate Scott Brown.

"We've received several independent and disturbing reports of voters across the state being handed ballots that are already marked in favor of Scott Brown," the Coakley campaign said. "This is obviously a serious violation, and our legal team is taking immediate steps to protect the integrity of this election.

"We do not yet know why this is happening, but you and everyone you know needs to be aware of the situation so that you can carefully inspect your ballot."

"The city clerk's office said a poll worker inadvertently handed out ballots that were already cast," Boston's ABC News affiliate added.

The Massachusetts secretary of state also played down the reports, saying that in the only verified instance of a pre-marked ballot resulted in that ballot being destroyed, according to the Associated Press.

"This is the sort of complaint a campaign usually makes early enough in the day to drive their voters' turnout up," National Review Online noted. "6 p.m. is awfully late."

"Is the Coakley camp hoping for a close race that, if necessary, they could get into Massachusetts's notoriously partisan court system?" Michael Graham asked.

Democrats in the state have retained the services of Marc Elias, "who was previously the head recount lawyer for Al Franken in Minnesota," Talking Points Memo noted.

This video was published to the Web by MyFoxBoston on Jan. 19, 2010.