That question is mostly for you Boston Globe and concerned advocates for democracy in Massachusetts.
I don’t operate on Beacon Hill or in the daily gossip mill of the State Committee, so I’m not privileged to have access to the rumor mill of insiders. But clearly collecting the necessary signatures for prospective candidates to become official candidates is causing big problems. (While I not privy to the insider rumor mill, I am a “super voter” registered as a Democrat, so I got a couple of packets in the mail containing a nomination signature form and a prepaid return envelope asking for me to sign and send back…so I know it a has to be a BIG problem for candidates).
If any candidate didn’t collect the bulk of their signatures in the first couple of weeks of caucuses–before the remaining ones were postponed due to the virus–their opportunities to collect signatures has run dry. And for Congressional candidates (incumbents and challengers) needing 2,000 signatures or the Markey/Kennedy folks who need 10,000 signatures, that’s a big issue. But even the St Rep candidate that collected half their signatures early, still need to find 50 or more people to sign their papers.
And what about the ballot questions? Whichever questions move ahead to the ballot, they will require more than 60,000 additional signatures (from the top of my head, please correct if not…but it is a big number). How the hell are they going to collect the 100,000 signatures needed to collect the valid amount?
Don’t worry, I’m sure the insider rumor mill is saving, there is talk that the Legislature looking to address that. (OK, I’m plugged into the rumor mill enough to know that piece of gossip…which I have no idea if it is true).
And frankly, in a time of ZERO TRANSPARENCY, it scares the blip out of me to think the Legislature will address questions of ballot access–things that directly affect THEM–in this crisis. With all of the focus on saving people’s lives today, this gives the Legislature ample opportunity to skew ballot access to favor them and their issue agenda with few noticing. (Nor will the media appropriately cover this kind of manipulation of ballot access when covering a health emergency, nor will people care about this issue during this crisis. Don’t believe me? Google Gary Condit.) For example, will the Legislature write a law saying any candidate that has demonstrated the ability to attain candidate status in the past, would not be required to seek additional signatures in the time of a state of emergency? (Translation, incumbents don’t need signatures, but challengers do.) Or maybe they wave the signature requirement for candidates, but there is no language dealing with ballot questions. That of course would be a probable death knell for those questions to make the ballot, including Ranked Choice Voting.
And what about making the act of voting safe for voters in the time of a pandemic, i.e. mail-in voting? Yes the state approved some kind of virtual voting for town meetings and (I believe) mail in voting for local Spring elections. Given the very short notice for these elections, there maybe some bumps in the road that will be unfortunate, but probably unavoidable.
But we have plenty of time to avoid potential problems with the September Primary and November General election. Last week I called my State Senator’s office and was incredulous to the reply I got when I asked if the Senator was working on mail in voting for the Sept and Nov elections, “Well we don’t know what things will be looking like at that time. By Aug. 15th, we should have a better idea if that is necessary” was the answer…(For those think that makes sense, I replied that IF things are indeed bad on August 15th, it will be to late to make the Sept primary a mail-in only election). So it appears from everything I HAVEN’T read or heard about, is no one in MA is taking measures to insure safe access to voting in the Primary or General election. This is not a Charlie Baker issue for now, let him deal with the current daily crisis.
But what is Bill Galvin doing or Legislative leaders doing to insure safe access to ballots and voting? We have one of the strictest absentee ballot request laws in the country. (HELL I HEARD GALVIN HIMSELF ONCE TELL PEOPLE TO IGNORE THE LAW THAT REQUIRES YOU TO SWEAR YOU WON’T BE AROUND ON ELECTION DAY WHEN APPLY FOR AN ABSENTEE BALLOT!!!!)
The Democratic outrage with regards to not allowing mail-in voting is focused on the GOP’s opposition to this on the Federal level and Dems correctly charge the GOP of not wanting people to vote in November because it is in the GOP’s interest for people not to vote.
Yet, here in Massachusetts, with a super majority of Dems in both branches of the General Court…not a peep from Democrats that we implement the very measures we are advocating for on the national level. That smacks of the same Massachusetts Democratic hypocrisy I criticize when if comes to their reluctance to embrace reforms like curbing big money in politics. Let’s not the Democratic establishment play lip service to increasing ballot access…they must act or they are part of the problem.