Hope in New Bedford. City Settles With Disenfranchised Voters

(But Simple J. Malarkey said there was no there there.  The City has settled a civil rights lawsuit regarding voting irregularities in the 2010 GOP primary for Attorney General. – promoted by Rob “EaBo Clipper” Eno)

Under the leadership of Mayor Jonathan F. Mitchell, the City of New Bedford has taken steps to correct profound difficulties that became evident at the time of the September, 2010, primary election.  In that election, 202 New Bedford voters cast write-in or sticker votes in the primary for the Republican Nomination for Attorney General – but none of those votes were counted for either of the candidates (Guy Carbone and myself).  Two disenfranchised New Bedford voters then brought a Federal civil-rights due-process lawsuit, the result of which was a settlement pursuant to which that city re-trained its elections officials and paid substantial compensation to those voters.

Most cities and towns did an outstanding job of counting the votes in that election.  In 62 municipalities, 100% of the write-in/sticker vote was counted for a candidate and, in the majority of cities and towns, more that 90% was counted.  For example, in Haverhill 306 votes were cast, with 306 being counted for a candidate; in Fitchburg, 177 of 183 votes (97%) were counted for a candidate; and in Brockton, 238 of 254 votes were counted (94%).

In contrast, most of our largest cities did an inexcusably bad job of counting the vote.  In Boston, there were 117 precincts in which votes were cast but none counted for a candidate, with, overall, 359 of 1535 (23%) of the votes cast being counted for a candidate.  In Worcester, less than half of the votes cast were counted for a candidate; in Lawrence, as in Boston, 23% of the votes cast were counted for a candidate; in Springfield, 14% of the votes cast were counted.  In addition, as was the case in New Bedford, more than a dozen smaller municipalities – ranging from Nantucket to Wilmington to Maynard to Nahant to Worthington – failed to count any of the votes cast for a candidate.  All-in-all, thousands of voters were disenfranchised.  

As a result of the settlement in the New Bedford case, and with Mayor Mitchell’s leadership, there is hope that voter disenfranchisement will be a thing of the past in that city.  However, given what happened in 2010, it seems that any voter who casts a write-in or sticker vote in most of our other largest cities still has less than a 50% chance of that vote being counted as cast.  Moreover, in light of how their municipalities did last time, no one in places like Maynard, Wilmington, Nantucket, and Nahant can have confidence that their write-in or sticker vote will be counted.  

That, of course, is inconsistent with the basic expectations in a democratic republic.  Moreover, that circumstance could prove critical should no Republican candidate for U.S. Senate emerge and a Lew Evangelidis or Mary Connaughton decide to launch a last-minute write-in campaign.  We can, however, expect improvement in New Bedford.

Very truly yours,

Jim McKenna

About Jim McKenna

  • Mr. Galvin, how did this happen under your watch?

  • Glad to hear the voters in New Bedford were able to get their point across. As I have pointed out to my town’s clerk several times, if the verbal abuse I have received at the polls had been heaped upon a democrat or person of colour, there would be news media, gangs of union thugs, and lawsuits galore. No one in authority is willing to tell the “JFK is Christ” era fossils manning the polls to just hand out the ballots,mark the names off the list, and keep their opinions to themselves. When I have complained at the polls about being told to ” just shut up and vote, there’s only ONE ballot” during the primary when I request a Republican ballot and that “If I don’t like the way you voted I’m just going to throw it out” during the final election,and other schoolyard level nonsense, I get threatened by the police on site with arrest for the federal crime of creating a disturbance in a polling place. The town clerk’s solution is to suggest I use absentee ballots.It’s not like I’m requesting a special ballot in Mandarin, or Sengalese, or Swahili or….oh wait. THAT they’d bend over backwards to comply with.

  • I’d be shocked, shocked that he would do something like that!

    I’ve had a few go arounds on this subject and I certainly said something similar to there being no there, there.  But not within the context of “voter disenfranchisement” but within the context of voter fraud and political corruption.  While folks around here want to infer a connection with sloppy, lazy or incompetent practices of city election officials (which is what I think probably occurred) to criminal voter fraud, there has been no evidence that this involves voter fraud.  And there is a very big difference between voter disenfranchisement (which is often done legally–more on that later) and voter fraud.

    So yes, there is no there there with regards to voter fraud or political corruption, based on everything I’ve read.  Now Rob, either present the allegations of criminal behavior, or I’ll just chalk this up to yet another example of Rob Eno’s smoke and mirror machine that cares more about scoring political points that telling the truth.  

  • To Jim McKenna & the two Republicans in New Bedford, I have two words for you:  THANK YOU!

  • While Republicans argue ideas, Democrats fix the process. There’s a great piece up at PJMedia about the under reported stories of 2013; one of them is the Democracy Project, a well-funded lefty group designed to break the Republic by breaking the franchise.

    Until Republicans are willing to break the figurative kneecaps of democratic poll workers, watchers, and meddlers, we will never pull the percentages we’re due.

    And the only way we will ever see free and fair elections is when voting irregularities start favoring Rpeublicans.  

  • Yes, you have discovered that some cities and towns have sloppy election procedures.  But anyone who followed the 2000 Presidential Election in Florida could have told you that.  Fortunately the hundreds (ok, maybe a couple of thousand) uncounted ballots did not have an impact on the election.  That is not an excuse for what appears to be lazy actions on the part of some election officials (or can you provide any evidence that demonstrates something more nefarious occurred?).  One uncounted ballot is wrong.

    But what is puzzling to me, with all the voter suppression and disenfranchisment that regularly occurs around the country, is that you have fixated on this relatively minor incident.  It makes me wonder why?  Is this a narcissistic temper tantrum by a someone who just can’t let go?  Or is it more cynical, a partisan attempt to deflect attention from voter suppression efforts by your fellow Republicans?

    One thing is very clear, there are scores of examples of GOP inspired efforts to disenfranchise voters occurring across the country.  If you were truly concerned about voter disenfranchisement, you would be condemning the following:

    Let’s start with GOP gerrymandering tactics that enabled your party to maintain control of the US House, even though Democratic candidates for Congress received more than 500,000 votes than GOP candidates.  But the GOP still controls Congress by a wide–234 by 195–margin.  Where is your outrage Mr. McKenna to this widely reported example of voter disenfranchisement?  

    When will you condemn your fellow Republicans who brag about passing laws specifically aimed at suppressing Democratic turnout?

    Instead you ignore these and scores of other examples of Republican Party officials who have conspired to block fellow citizens from voting.

    Given your silence on the overall issue of voter disenfranchisement and suppression, your “outrage” regarding uncounted write-in votes that had no impact on an election, rings hallow.  

  •    Or should I add liar, cheat, thief, welsher, and all democratic plant to that.

      As you well know, I am wheelchair disabled. I VALUE the right to vote. If I can take the more-than-normal trouble to vote, your democratic friends can and have a moral duty to damn well count it! I thought your democrats liked us? Oh, silly me. Democrats only like gays, disabled, and old people in elections. Otherwise, retreat to the bottom of the democratic pile until the next election.