Voice of the Voters: The Bonifaz Blog

"They're Supposed to Count the Votes, Right?"

Submitted by Ofer Inbar on Thu, 09/21/2006 - 12:51pm.

[ crossposted at Blue Mass Group ]

For much of the year, I have worked for John Bonifaz, not just promoting his campaign online, but also covering election issues to inform people about the state of Democracy in America and the problems we need to fix.  On Tuesday, I dedicated the day to Sonia Chang-Diaz's campaign for state senate in the Second Suffolk district.

The two streams combined: Tuesday night, I found myself at the center of the kinds of voting problems I'd written about on John's blog.  Even before Wednesday's announcement that eight precincts had no vote tallies at all, we knew there were hundreds, if not thousands, of votes not counted, and the election results uncertain.  On Wednesday, the Chang-Diaz campaign called John Bonifaz to help guide them through the process of seeing all the votes counted.

I'd like to commend the Boston elections department for being as helpful as they have, on election night and in advance.  Especially John Donovan - if we pull through this mess and end up with a full and reliable count of the votes, it will be partly thanks to him.  But make no mistake: the votes have not been counted, even without considering the 8 precincts that submitted no tallies.  It's not yet time to think about a "recount" - we still need a real first count.

As Bonifaz said many times on the campaign trail, we didn't know about the problems in Florida until 2000, and most of us didn't know about the problems in Ohio until 2004; if we have a really close result in a prominent election, we would find out that we also have problems here in Massachusetts.  Perhaps this will be the election that brings them to our attention.

Count the Votes?

During most of the last couple of hours before polls closed, and the next few hours after, I held the line 1 telephone and fielded a majority of the incoming calls.  Signs of trouble started early in the evening: the first time I got a call from a volunteer asking "they're supposed to count the votes, right?" I almost didn't know what to make of it.

Thank You

Submitted by John Bonifaz on Tue, 09/19/2006 - 9:44pm.

THANK YOU!

Over the last 10 months, I have traveled the Commonwealth speaking to voters from the Berkshires to the Cape and everywhere in between. I have been inspired by the passion and commitment of voters of all ages and from all walks of life to this grassroots campaign.

Thank you.

Thanks to all of you who supported this campaign. I have been humbled by your support and am proud to stand with you again tonight.

While we did not emerge victorious at the polls, we should all feel a sense of pride about our efforts, about the movement we have started and about what lies ahead. Tuesday, nearly 130,000 voters stood up and I am honored to stand with them today and into the future.

This is just the beginning. We'll be back and together we will continue our journey to return voters to power and to make Massachusetts a national leader once again.

Keep on!
John

Bonifaz featured on thenation.com

Submitted by Ofer Inbar on Tue, 09/19/2006 - 3:44pm.

On the front page of The Nation's web site today, John Nichols' A Plan to Fix Our Broken Elections proclaims, Massachusetts candidate John Bonifaz has the right program to restore democracy.

Nichols writes, "Some of us have been writing and talking about this country's almost fully dysfunctional electoral systems for the better part of a decade." Secretary of state positions "have to be occupied by champions of democracy who believe that protecting and the promoting the right to vote must be the central function of local and state election officials."

[Bonifaz] has persevered with a primary campaign that has spoken well and wisely of the need to fix our broken election systems. His small "d" democratic commitment has earned Bonifaz enthusiastic endorsements from newspapers such as the Boston Phoenix, one of the nation's premier alternative weeklies, and the New Bedford Standard-Times, which declared last week that, "Mr. Galvin has not used his office enough to push through voting reforms that make Massachusetts a shining example and a leader in reviving democracy at the local level. Mr. Bonifaz will be that champion for the voter."

Blogs for Bonifaz

Submitted by Ofer Inbar on Tue, 09/19/2006 - 7:21am.

We've always believed that if voters took a long look at the candidates for Secretary, most of them would pick John Bonifaz. He's clearly the better candidate. Our challenge has been that most voters don't think about the race for Secretary, and the press doesn't cover it as much as the exciting race for Governor that voters are paying a lot more attention to. Our task has been to get the word out, to get people interested in researching the candidates, knowing that of those who do, a majority will vote for Bonifaz.

We believe Bill Galvin knows it. Bill Galvin's strategy has been to keep this race out of the news and to keep voters in the dark. His hope is that most voters won't think much about the race for Secretary until they're at the polling place, see the ballot, and vote for the incumbent whose name they probably recognize.

Well, one group of voters who have been paying a lot of attention, and carefully evaluating the candidates all year, are the bloggers. They're independent of the Democratic party, but they're very active and informed. Massachusetts Democratic political bloggers span the spectrum of views in the Massachusetts Democratic party, and earlier this year, several of them were leaning towards Galvin, several towards Bonifaz, and several undecided. And after taking a good long hard look at the candidates, a host of Massachusetts Democratic blogs endorsed John Bonifaz while none have endorsed Galvin as far as we can see.

  • Blue Mass Group:
    At the outset, each of us expected to back Galvin in this race (though we didn't expect to be terribly vocal about it). But as we've explored the details of the race and seen the way the two candidates are conducting it, we've changed our minds.
  • Mass Revolution Now:
    I must admit that for quite some time I was ambivilent on the Secretary of State's race in Massachusetts. [...] In the last few weeks my thinking certainly changed. Not only have I realized how important the SoS's office can be if filled by the right person but I have also come to see that John Bonifaz is not only a tremendous candidate with excellent ideas and but also a great person.
  • Ryan Adams:
    ... the tipping point in my decision to vote for Bonifaz is his internet presence. Not only is Bonifaz using the internet to educate voters and compel them to vote for him, he's pointing voters out to some of the most important issues going on in Massachusetts. The race isn't about Bonifaz, it's about the issues - and whether or not he wins, he's probably done more good for electoral politics outside of office than Galvin has as an elected official.
  • Left in Lowell:
    I cast my vote today for Secretary of State for John Bonifaz. And, as the editors at BMG said in their endorsement, it’s not just a vote against Galvin - who not only flubbed in his ignore-the-opponent tactic, but who appears to be less attentive to his job than he once was. However, Bonifaz, though many of his ideas are grand and would be hard to implement, has views that are in line with mine - from corporate responsibility to election reform and protecting voting rights. We know that with Bonifaz, we will never have to worry about paperless touchscreen ballots or having known problems with voting in some cities ignored.
  • Below Boston:
    John Bonifaz for Secretary of State. For using his years of expertise and energy on educating people on the fundamental importance of the office for which he seeks, his clear understanding on the vital role fair and honest elections have on maintaining our democracy,his committment to enfranchising the citizen as voter, his understanding of the role the Secretary of State's office plays in regulating corporate citizenship, and his willingness to debate these issues with his opponent makes him our clear choice for Secretary of State.
  • DedhamBlog:
    I have to agree with other bloggers out there like David at BlueMassGroup and Ryan over at Ryan's Take that John Bonifaz deserves a debate with Bill Galvin and he has my support on September 19th unless Galvin convinces me otherwise in a debate of some kind. To learn more about John Bonifaz, visit www.JohnBonifaz.com and avoid another 'no information voter' campaign.
  • Marry in Massachusetts:
    The dictionary defines galvanize as "stimulate" or even "coat with zinc." Given our secretary of state's cowardly inaction and lack of communication, perhaps it would define Galvinize as "avoid citizens" or "disdain the voters."

    It cracks a corner off my infallibility plaque, but I have to reverse my endorsement in this race. After much thought in May, I came down for Bill Galvin over John Bonifaz. In light of the objections I had then to Galvin and particularly his recent behavior, I switch to John Bonifaz.

    I see Bonifaz as by far the brighter and more principled of the two.

  • Michael Wilcox, Berkshires for Progressive Change.
  • Blog for Boston, the blog of Democracy for America - Boston.
  • Off on a Tangent, with a great post about how to vote in a sticker campaign.
  • The Progressive Blog:
    The Progressive Blog is pleased to announce its first ever, official political endorsement:

    JOHN BONIFAZ
    for SECRETARY of the COMMONWEALTH of MASSACHUSETTS

A Vote for Bonifaz is a vote for...

Submitted by Ofer Inbar on Tue, 09/19/2006 - 12:52am.

A vote for Bonifaz is...

A vote for leadership.
A vote for same day registration.
A vote for clean elections.
A vote against Diebold touchscreen voting.
A vote for enforcing the Voting Rights Act in Massachusetts.
A vote against entrenched incumbency and for public debate.

 

Bill Galvin ignored voting rights violations while Bonifaz stepped up to help, stayed silent when clean elections was attacked and Bonifaz led the fight to defend it, blocked same day registration legislation promoted by town clerks, and has failed to show up to a single debate with John Bonifaz all year. The difference couldn't be clearer.

Vote, then call your friends and remind them to vote.

Galvin Considers Diebold for Massachusetts

Submitted by Ofer Inbar on Mon, 09/18/2006 - 3:21pm.

The Help America Vote Act, was a mixed bag, but one clearly positive part of the bill was a requirement that states make voting more accessible to the disabled. As the Boston Globe reported, however, Bill Galvin failed to meet the deadline to comply. HAVA, passed in 2002, gave states until Jan. 1, 2006, "to provide disabled voters with the same accessibility and privacy in the voting booth that everyone else enjoys."

State elections officials say specially designed voting machines for people with disabilities might not be available at every polling place in time for the Sept. 19 primary election, despite a federal requirement that the machines be in place this year. Secretary of State William F. Galvin said he is near the end of a lengthy vetting process and could order the machines within days, depending upon an outside expert's evaluation of three models

The Federal government has already sued a few states for failing to comply with this requirement. John Bonifaz harshly criticized Galvin's inaction:

"One of the most important aspects of the Help America Vote Act, passed in 2002, is the need for states across the country to have voting equipment that adequately and securely meets the needs of voters with disabilities. [...] despite HAVA's passage four years ago, Secretary Galvin has no plan in place to meet this requirement and train all poll workers in time for September 19. [...] this process should have started years ago, after the bill's 2002 passage. Massachusetts is again failing to meet basic federal requirements because of Secretary Galvin's inaction. We've seen voting rights violations and Justice Department lawsuits in Boston and Springfield. Now, it is non-compliance with a critical voter accessibility law."



John Bonifaz answers questions,
talks about computer voting in Ohio.
(link to this video)

What "three models" of voting machines is Galvin's office considering?

According to Massachusetts election integrity groups, Galvin's office sent out requests for proposals to voting machine companies only last fall, and narrowed the choices down to three for serious consideration. For most of this year, anxious town clerks who have asked the elections division what machines they may need to by, have been told that these three options are still being evaluated. They are: the AutoMARK, the Hart InterCivic eSlate, and the Diebold AccuVote touchscreen voting machine!

John Bonifaz would not consider bringing proprietary Diebold touchscreen voting to Massachusetts. In his Voters' Bill of Rights he writes,

1. Count every vote

The right to vote includes the right to have our votes properly counted.

We must ensure that every citizen's vote will be counted. This includes a guarantee of open and transparent elections with verified voting, paper trails, hand-recorded paper ballots, and access to the source codes for, and random audits of, electronic voting machines. It also includes a guarantee that we the people, through our government, will control our voting machines — not private companies.

Mimi Kennedy: Elect John Bonifaz

Submitted by Mimi Kennedy on Mon, 09/18/2006 - 7:30am.

(Mimi Kennedy is the chair of the board of Progressive Democrats of America -- Ofer Inbar)

John Bonifaz's election as Massachusetts Secretary of State is necessary to reverse the decline in American democracy at a time when our children's future hangs in the balance.

In November 2000, John Conyers and NAACP officials conducted post-election hearings in a sweltering schoolroom in Florida. I watched, on C-SPAN, as African American voters and pollworkers told stories of abuse and disenfranchisement that made me weep. I had celebrated the civil rights victories of the sixties, but as a white person, I'd never been harassed or disenfranchised at the polls. The reality for my fellow voters, forty years after the Voting Rights Act, was horrifying. When John Conyers' thorough report on Florida established the groundwork for federal election reform, I rejoiced.

The Help America Vote Act was passed in 2002. Like most Americans and their legislators, I didn't know the bill's details. The name promised an end to disenfranchisement and national enforcement of standards to end local corruption: election reform! But, like the resolution that led to war in Iraq, like the Patriot Act, HAVA has had consequences that, while perhaps not unintended by the lobbyists who helped craft it, has sown wider and more subtle disenfranchisement throughout the country.

In Ohio, 2004, electronic voting helped a partisan Secretary of State decide the presidential election despite massive anomalies, voter suppression and disenfranchisement, and documented, decisive inaccuracies.

John Conyers, once again a lone legislator crying "foul!", held hearings - and John Bonifaz was there. His detailed analysis of Ohio's problems established him as a leader in both the voter-suppression and technological aspects of election reform and election protection - now combining under the name election integrity. His passion for election integrity is just that: it is for integrity. Our voting system must serve all voters' intent. It is not to be used to reward some and punish others; to serve some interests and ignore others; to record some votes accurately and shift others; to give access to some and deny it to others.

John Bonifaz understands the threat to democracy from social injustice. As a leading Constitutional lawyer, he's committed to civil rights. But he also understands - with a knowledge that is rare and increasingly valuable -- how mathematically-manipulated elections happen -- and are accepted by an electorate convinced by skewed polls and divisive PR campaigns.

Restore hope to democracy by electing John Bonifaz, one of the nation's leading election protectors, as Massachusetts' top elections official.

Clean Elections: Healthier Democracy in Arizona

Submitted by Phil Lopes on Sun, 09/17/2006 - 7:38pm.

(In 2002, John Bonifaz took the lead in defending Massachusetts' clean elections law, while Secretary Galvin did nothing.

Phil Lopes is the progressive House Minority Leader in Arizona. He ran as a clean elections candidate when he was first elected in 2002, and again for both of his re-election campaigns since then. Arizona's public financing law has had a major impact on his and other campaigns. -- Ofer Inbar)

I've worked in public health all of my career, health care and health care reform; I want to create a single payer system. I'm a very liberal Democrat, and Tucson is a liberal place, but Arizona is pretty conservative. I hoped that by getting elected, I could not just be a voice for liberalism, but also influence what Republicans in this state do. By the time 2002 rolled around I was semi-retired and the kids were grown. I'd been wanting to run for office since I was in high school, and now it was time. In 2004 I got elected House minority leader, which gives me a bully pulpit to keep talking about health care. That's my passion.

Talking to the Voters
I had run for state house once before, in 1992, and lost. One of the things I hated most was asking people for money, so I supported the clean elections law when it was on the ballot. The law went into effect with the 2000 election. In 2002, clean elections made my decision much easier, because I knew what I had to do: talk to voters. That's much better than having to ask people for money.

Under the Arizona law, a candidate for state house must collect 220 contributions of $5 each from registered voters in the district. You submit all of the contribution forms to the secretary of state, who verifies a sample of the contributors to make sure they're legitimate, and certifies you. Then you turn that certification in to the Clean Elections agency, and they send you a check: about $12,000 for the primary, and about $18,000 for the general election. Whatever you don't spend, you must return to the state.

That's one of the real attractions of it: Once I raised my 220 contributions in June, I never had to ask for money again. All I did from then on, was talk to voters about the issues - knowing that all my opponents had the same resources as I did.

Town Clerks Want Same Day Registration

Submitted by Ofer Inbar on Sat, 09/16/2006 - 1:08pm.

The south coast's most influential newspaper, the Standard Times of New Bedford, endorsed John Bonifaz this week, as we've already written here. In their endorsement, the Times asked of Galvin, "why not also champion election day registration and work aggressively to see it implemented in Massachusetts?"

Judith L. St. Croix, the president of the Massachusetts Town Clerks Association and the town clerk of Wayland, said her organization did a detailed study of election day registration in 2004 and presented the findings to state officials. She said she has seen no efforts by Mr. Galvin to push for this reform.

In fact, she said she was surprised to read Mr. Galvin state in a newspaper interview that he wants to have this reform implemented by the November election. It would be nearly impossible for this to happen, she said. And it's clear Mr. Galvin is now saying this because Mr. Bonifaz has charged him with dragging his feet.

Surprised, indeed. As we know, Bill Galvin worked to block election day registration legislation last year. Town Clerks are the people who administer elections locally, and they studied election day registration in 2004 and asked the state to implement it. Galvin says he blocked it in 2005 because he thought we needed to study it first. Hmmm?

As the president of the Town Clerks Association said to the New Bedford Standard Times, it's clear that Galvin is only saying this now because John Bonifaz is challenging him on it. Let's take that challenge to the ballot box on Tuesday: a vote for Bonifaz is a vote for getting it done.

Ned Lamont Voter: Denied at the Polls

Submitted by Fernando Olmo on Fri, 09/15/2006 - 9:22pm.

(Last month, I went to Connecticut to volunteer for Ned Lamont on election day. Standing outside the polling place that afternoon, I met a poll worker named Luis, taking a break. He told me that he'd been voting in Democratic primaries for a long time, but that day, he couldn't vote - he was listed as "unaffiliated", and CT doesn't allow unaffiliated voters to vote in primaries. I asked if he could cast a provisional ballot, but his English was not great and I'm not sure he understood. He didn't want to press the issue - he just wasn't going to vote in this election.

Later, I met an organizer named Juan, who told me the town we were in had a history. Several years ago, in a contested Democratic primary for first selectman, many voters with hispanic last names found that they were unaffiliated, even though they had registered as Democrats. It was happening again, it seemed. Juan suggested I speak to his friend Fernando, and after hearing his story, I invited him to write it down for us.

Same Day Registration is the solution to problems like this, although Bill Galvin doesn't like it. -- Ofer Inbar)

The Connecticut primary on August 8, 2006 displayed to the nation the showdown between the current Connecticut Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman and his challenger for Connecticut Ned Lamont; two different views on the war in Iraq. I felt that although it was only the primary it was just as important as voting in the November elections; I wanted to be one of the many I hoped would show up to vote to voice my discontent with the current Republican government and Joe Lieberman. By voting for Ned Lamont I and so many others would now have a say as to what course we want to take with regard to Iraq.

After work I picked up my mother from work and headed to our local voting station and reported to the voters list table only to discover that my name was not on the list!

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