Election Commission Meeting tonight

As reported in the Telegram, there will be an Election Commission meeting tonight at 5:30pm. (Though the Telegram reports that the date of the preliminary election will be September 15, and I thought it was September 20. Clarification, please!)

I’ve read the Worcester Seven Hills Tea Party’s allegations of what happened at some polling places (and various responses) numerous times.  I’ve read this document from bottom to top quite a few times, and I still don’t have a clear sense of what happened, what needs to be done, or even what my opinion is.

I’ve tried (and failed) over the course of a few weeks to write a post about the issues that will be brought up.  What follows is a rather random collection of my thoughts.

1.

The Worcester Seven Hills Tea Party has been training poll watchers to identify what they call voter fraud. In the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s parlance, these folks are called “observers”, and there are rules that need to be followed with observers [on pp.4-5 of the link], and there are guidelines regarding challenging someone’s vote [pp. 5-6 of the link].

What concerns me most regarding the Tea Party observers’ accounts of events [pp.22-33 of the link] in the polling locations is that there are plenty of insinuations of wrongdoing (on the part of groups like Neighbor to Neighbor or poll workers) but it doesn’t seem as if any votes were challenged.  If there was the extent of problems these folks allege, why did they not challenge a particularly problematic individual voter?

If you’re going to warn folks that there might be massive election fraud, wouldn’t it behoove you to challenge the fraudulent votes that are happening all around you?

2.

As I mentioned previously, I have been and continue to be concerned that the right of a voter to bring someone into a polling booth is really at the heart of what’s being challenged.  It’s well within a voter’s rights to bring their grandchild, next-door neighbor, or even a campaign worker into the booth with them.

In the original challenge, there also seemed to be a lot of attention paid to whether someone was allowed to vote if they were disabled or homeless.  Challenges to someone’s right to vote for either reason should concern folks across the political spectrum.

3.

I’m also concerned that the Tea Party folks are portraying themselves as a non-partisan group and that N2N is a political party.  The Tea Party folks appear to have been working at least in part with the campaign manager for Marty Lamb.  This is not to say that N2N isn’t actively campaigning or assisting candidates.

But for the Seven Hills Tea Party (a group with “party” right in its name) to accuse N2N of being a political party while not acknowledging its own close relationship to the Lamb campaign is a touch disingenuous.

4.

The Worcester Tea Party [not the same as the “Seven Hills”] said that Worcester’s potential Arizona ban wasn’t the business of the Worcester City Council.  Why aren’t they out there asking why Boylston (and Southborough) residents have any business in Worcester elections?

And why didn’t the Worcester Seven Hills Tea Party step up to the plate and provide a much-needed candidate forum before this year’s preliminary election?  If they spent as much time encouraging voter engagement and education as they do prepping conservative activists to identify “voter fraud”, I would likely be more sympathetic to their cause.

5.

I don’t think this increased attention on elections is a bad thing, and I do think the Tea Partiers had good points about the need for training, and the need to move voters to the inactive list as a result of the city census.

I hope that the increased attention also encourages folks to apply to serve on the Election Commission, which currently has two openings, one of which has already been discussed in some depth in the Telegram.

Now more than ever, we need people committed to the democratic process and fairness who are willing to serve.

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3 thoughts on “Election Commission Meeting tonight

  1. Hannah says:

    Hey Nicole!

    My face is in the picture in today’s article: http://telegram.com/article/20110830/NEWS/108309959/1101/local

    I was just observing, taking mental notes of what was going on rather than have a critical eye and an open notebook; I did note the passions of many who spoke, both those of friends and people I knew and those who I have never met before. Some of the passion was startling. I have a sense that the same tension (yet perhaps more tame) happened during the deliberation about meeting at the library. I heard the very eloquent public speakers yet was not quite persuaded by them. But what I heard from Mayor O’Brien and Councilor Lukes was impressive.

    • Nicole says:

      There was a pretty hilarious comment from Who1 on that article:
      “It’s obvious that the party that popularized three cornered hats and tea bags as fashion accessories has been out coutured. It’s only tee-shirt envy. The simple solution is that the tea party should get their own cool tee shirts. They can call them ‘tea shirts’ and put a cool logo or saying on them. I suggest the classic “I’m with stupid” tea shirt with the arrow pointed appropriately to the left.”

  2. Amelia says:

    Hey, Nicole.

    I don’t see how the Seven Hills Tea Party has a leg to stand on, in terms of Neighbor2Neighbor being any more of a political party than they are; their agenda is clearly partisan.

    That being said, I would definitely encourage people in Worcester to be vigilant about the behavior of Poll Watchers in your upcoming election. When we had a special election this spring for the 6th Worcester District’s State Rep race we had a bit of a fiasco at the primary:

    http://www.telegram.com/article/20110413/NEWS/110419847

    The Elections Division at the Secretary of the Commonwealth issued emergency regulations as a result of what happened at our primary:

    http://www.sec.state.ma.us/ele/eleemereg/emereghearing.htm

    So, moving forward, I’m hoping what happened on April 12 in Southbridge won’t be repeated, but it’s clearly something that folks who care about the rights of voters are going to have to remain vigilant about.

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