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February 27, 2008

Comments

wakeup

the so called Ms Chang is a progressive woman that has many connections with the PDSers and from what I have heard she is not the inside candidate. Oh poor SomervilleNews always in the dark.

Ron Newman

Behind closed doors? To my knowledge, the March 10 meeting is open to the public, and includes an election of new officers. Any member of the City Committee can nominate him/herself or someone else for an office. It will take place at 7 pm at the VNA on Lowell Street.

Two Questions

Can you tell me how to access the legislators voting records on your web site? It's about time someone published this information!
Also, where on Innerbelt Road will the Lions Club Hall be located? That's great news for Somerville, perhaps we'll have a decent function hall now for political events and fundraisers. When will it open?

Ron Newman

See the link "Beacon Hill Roll Call" in the top left column. However, that's only for February 18-22. Where do I find earlier weeks?

Imux

We got to all send Carl packing and I ain't talking fudge.

From 'Beacon Hill Roll Call'

"SAME-DAY VOTER REGISTRATION (S 446) - The Elections Laws Committee has endorsed legislation allowing people to register to vote at the polls on the day of the November 2008 presidential election and the November 2010 election and be immediately eligible to vote. The proposed law would expire in 2011 unless the Legislature votes to extend it or make it permanent. Supporters say that this would increase voter registration and turnout on Election Day and noted that they plan to ask for state and/or federal funds to pay for the increased costs to cities and towns. They noted that the 2011 sunset provision would allow the Legislature to review how the new law worked and then make a decision whether to permanently implement it and apply it to other elections. Some opponents say that same-day registration would open the door to mischief and fraud. Others expressed concerns about the additional costs of the law to cities and towns that are already struggling with their local budgets."
~This is a dangerous proposal and we all need to contact our reps to make sure that they vote against it. There is already enough voter fraud in this country. This insane proposal would multiply it by thousands. The reason people now must register before the election is so that the city can verify that they actually live at the address given. Give me a break, and they refuse to ask for ID at the polls on top of this!
~And by the way, there's also this....." During the week of February 18-22, the House met for a total of one hour and 18 minutes while the Senate met for a total of one hour and 13 minutes."
How much money are we paying these people? Are they kidding? Talk about early retirement. We need to go to part-time, low-paid legislators like New Hampshire has. Now!


Ron Newman

Several other states have same-day voter registration, including New Hampshire and Maine. Has it caused any major problems there?

From 'Beacon Hill Roll Call'

I'm sure that it has. Besides the obvious logistical problems,unfortunately, much of the fraud often goes undetected. I did actually hear some anecdotal evidence of problems in NH during recent elections. People from Massachusetts, for instance, learning by chance that someone had their vacation home address to register and vote. I'd call that a problem, especially given that you usually don't find out it happens.
Have you ever heard of Chicago????

Stinky

Hey Imux, keep it up. That\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'ll convince everyone that the anti-Carl sentiment around here has nothing to do with his being gay.

JARfromWard3

As a Polling Place Warden, I have to say that I, for one, am not looking forward to this change if it happens.

Don't misunderstand me; EVERYONE who is a citizen of eligible age should have the ability to vote in every election, as is their Constitutional right. Speaking from my own experience, every effort is made to ensure that any person who shows up to vote is given a ballot.

Unfortunately, there is a percentage--actually it's only a fraction of a percentage--of people who end up taking provisional ballots; and I am sorry to say that it's usually their own fault that they're not on the voting list.

Concerns of possible fraud are well placed. Consider that a person could conceivably register to vote on the spot in, say, Boston, and cast a ballot there. Then, they could drive to Cambridge and register to vote and cast another ballot there. And then to Somerville. The only thing that would prevent such from happening is if there were an immediate on-line statewide notification system (which is what is being discussed--the concept is simple, but the execution of it is a different matter again). This would almost have to involve real-time linked terminals at EVERY polling place in the Commonwealth. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that the possibility of massive confusion is a very real one.

At the recent primary, I had, at one point, six people in line with ID's out while I called in to Elections seeking information on their respective voting status since THEY didn't know what it was. Add in the typical beginning-of-election-cycle problems with inactive voters (those who failed to return their City census or who otherwise had not shown up to vote for a period of several years or longer) and the time involved in completing affidavits on the spot, etc., and you start to get the idea of the enormous challenge that on-the-spot registration can present.

It is only my opinion, but "adulthood" does--and should--entail certain personal responsibilities. One's making sure, within a reasonable standard of tolerance, that they are registered to vote should be one of these. Democracy is work.

My $.02.

73
JAR

Yorktown Street

Actually, voter fraud is something I've studied. There are few documented cases of anyone registering to vote when they're not entitled to. Same-day voter registration doesn't lead to fraudulent registration.

There are two main types of voter fraud. The smaller one: 1) people pretending to be someone else in order to vote--and that someone else has usually registered long in advance. The main problem: 2) voter suppression--people who have a legal right to vote being told they can't, or discouraged, or threatened to keep them from voting.

JARfromWard3

Curious am I, Yorktown, at how the logistics of this play out. Could you elaborate? I'm sure it is do-able, but seeing this process from the ground level as I have for the past 10 years or so, I'd be quite interested to see how it can be done and satisfy every reasonable problem.

Speaking of the Legislature's action on changes to the registration process... I'd like to see a provision made to allow polling place workers who are assigned to other than their own voting precincts to be able to take absentee ballots and thus avoid having to go to their polling places during the day to cast their ballots. This is not allowed at the present time and, other than the fact that State law precludes it, I can't really see why.

73
JAR

Need to Know

Ok everyone. I need to know if what I just heard is true. My friends up at city hall are telling me that the city is about to restructure much of DPW. The first move they are going to make is with the repair garage. I guess now that SK doesn't need MB anymore he'll make some changes. MB will now report to TB and all responsibility of the garage will fall under TB. That was a long time coming. I want to know if this is true and what else they have up the sleeve.

JAR rocks!

'..."adulthood" does--and should--entail certain personal responsibilities. One's making sure, within a reasonable standard of tolerance, that they are registered to vote should be one of these. Democracy is work.'
~JAR, you are SO right! People don't take something seriously that comes too easily. If you want to vote you should be able to manage to get up to City Hall during the months that a campaign drags on. No excuse now, since they're open one night every week, plus extra hours near the registration deadline. The people who didn't register to vote then just didn't care enough. So be it. Those who are pushing for this registration process are trying to make anyone who opposes it into some sort of bigot or racist (is there a term for someone who's a bigot towards 'unregistered voters'??
~JAR is also correct on the second point: Instant registration would be a nightmare on so many different levels. It would be a logistical nightmare, as well as the open invitation to fraud that JAR and others suggests.
~Yorktown: With all due respect how do you know that there isn't voter fraud, just because it hasn't been uncovered? I guarantee you that if someone did a thorough investigation they would find many who have registered who are 1) not citizens, 2)not the person they proclaim to be and 3)registered in more than one town (I don't know of any system currently that would prevent this - especially without IDs.
~And to your second point: "voter suppression-people who have a legal right to vote being told they can't, or discouraged, or threatened to keep them from voting." Most people who are told they cannot vote on election day have not registered, or have not voted or completed a city census form in some time and cannot verify their place of residence. The 'Motor Votor' law contributed to this by allowing people to complete registration forms at bus stations, shopping malls, etc, as well as the Registry, but often the forms are not turned over, or not in a timely manner at any rate, and they therefore have not officially 'registered to vote', despite being 'eligible'.

Yorktown Street

To the person writing as "JAR rocks!":

The thorough investigations have been done. They did not find evidence of any those problems being widespread. But I agree that no system can be 100% accurate. I would err on the side of letting people vote instead of excluding them.

In fact, I don't know if you folks are aware of it, but in most parts of the world it is not, in fact, an individual responsibility to register to vote. It is the nation's responsibility to keep an accurate roll of eligible voters. I have to admit, that seems more democratic to me.

JARfromWard3

Yorktown, et al;

I didn't mean to come off as sounding pious or condescending, but I have a personal problem with my ability to vote being "the nation's" responsibility. I defer to Socrates on this point...

"One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors".

73
JAR

JAR rocks!

To Yorktown: Can you please elaborate on the 'thorough investigations' which have been done? How and when? How do you find evidence that someone used the name of a deceased individual to vote? How do you find evidence that someone used the name of a resident who has moved to vote? How do you find evidence that someone has used an invalid address to register to vote? My feeling is, the only evidence would be complaints. But most of the time there is noone who is aware of the fraud who can complain. I think you're being naive in assuming that voter fraud isn't rampant.
You say you would 'err on the side of letting people vote instead of excluding them', but in my opinion the privilege of voting is far too important, and if you can't prove you are a citizen and that you live at a particular address, I don't think it's unreasonable to say that you cannot vote. I don't know many people who don't have a utility bill or a phone bill to prove their residence. And to get any legitimate job you need to show your social security card, so producing it to vote should not be a burden.

"in most parts of the world it is not an individual responsibility to register to vote. It is the nation's responsibility to keep an accurate roll of eligible voters. I have to admit, that seems more democratic to me."
This statement is your most bizarre. How does the nation produce this 'accurate roll of eligible voters' (which by the way every city and town in America has)? They can only produce it by virtue of those who register to vote, so your statement makes no sense at all.
Once again, JAR is completey correct (and very articulate to boot!). Every time someone votes who is not legally eligible, my vote is diminished. That is not acceptable.

Ron Newman

I'd like to hear New Hampshire's experience with this before I make up my mind.

Does the current registration deadline of 20 days before the election actually prevent any of the abuses you mention (such as dead people voting, or people voting after they have moved away)?

Yorktown Street

JAR, the problem we are discussing is not that people "refuse to participate." That's a different problem, maybe to discuss in a different thread. The problem we are discussing is that people try to vote, are eligible to vote, and are discouraged from voting or even denied their right to vote when they try.

JAR rocks: Don't call something bizarre if you simply have never heard of it before. I studied this stuff a long time ago, but the very first site I found on the web, from an Associate Professor of Political Science at CalTech, explains:

"There are three basic types of voter registration systems: the periodic list, the
continuous register, and the civil registry. The periodic list is a voter list that is
constructed from scratch before every election, and is used only for the purposes of a
single election. The continuous register, on the other hand, is a voter list that is
constantly maintained and updated by elections officials; the continuous register is a
voter list that evolves over time and is used in every successive election. The third type
of voter registration system is the civil registry. This is a voter list that integrates
information about all citizens, ranging from geographic location to other types of
information that the government might collect about citizens; under the civil registry
system voters typically are automatically registered to vote, and changes in residence are usually reflected in voting registration status without any necessary action by the citizen ."

"In the United States, the voting registration system most closely approximates the
continuous register. Many other democratic nations, including most of the nations in
Europe and Latin America, use some form of civil registry for voter registration.
Conventional wisdom about civil registry systems is that they are relatively efficient and
inexpensive, as costs of keeping the voter list up-to-date are shared across government agencies. The major drawback with the civil registry system is the potential loss of
privacy, as citizens might be concerned about the sharing of information about
themselves between government agencies."

Solh Zendeh

How many people would really bother to participate in a crime with so little reward and so much risk of being caught red-handed? I think it's pretty funny to be that concerned about something as small as that when there are computerized voting terminals with *no paper trail* that have been proven to be easily tamperable actually in use right now.

Now *there* is a crime that is both difficult to trace to an individual, and has obvious large-scale rewards for the perpetrator.

JAR, I sympathize with the difficulty you face, but I think the answer is to make fast voter registration easier *for you too*, not to simply eliminate it because this particular iteration makes your life hell.

Ron Newman

Fortunately, we don't use those systems in Somerville; in fact, I think Secretary of State Galvin has refused to allow them anywhere in Massachusetts.

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