Friday, September 21, 2012

The Whole Story

If you read today's (9/21/12) Telegram article regarding the Election Commission Meeting last night, you would get the impression that the commission did its best regarding the recent allegations of voter intimidation during our recent primary election, but due to a lack of formal complaints before the panel, they would take no action regarding the charges.

What has been left unsaid in the established reporting is the highly partisan nature of this conflict, which is troubling to me.  As our country becomes more divided based on red state/blue state stereotypes, I wonder if our system of voting is being tarnished by the two party system.  I have volunteered as a poll worker, yet have never been chosen, perhaps due to my lack of participation in party politics.  The fewer actively partisan election workers we have, the less chance we have of people's right to vote being suppressed.

If you only read the T&G version, you might shrug your shoulders and think the issue was resolved, or not a big deal.  Thankfully there is more information out there in the age of the internet.

Here's the link to the video of the meeting on the City website.  Here's Nicole's excellent live blog of the meeting, for those of us who don't use Microsoft products and can't access the live video.  Here's Joe Scully's video of Bonnie Johnson and Tina Hood's testimony before the Commission.  Here's Nicole's previous piece on the activist connections of the players involved in the voting issues at our polling places. 

Jim Savage claimed he saw no instances of voter intimidation, yet attended a coordinating meeting between Activate Worcester and the Worcester Republican Party. The Worcester Republican Party, per city rules, provides poll workers and wardens to the City for elections. Activate Worcester's main goal this election is to prevent "welfare recipients and disenfranchised people" from voting, per Bonnie Johnson (despite the fact that welfare recipients can vote and a disenfranchised person can't vote, hence the word disenfranchised.) Perhaps Mr. Savage has a conflict of interest.

Tina Hood is a poll warden, and repeatedly asked for clarifications of the role observers play at the polls. She is a trained poll warden, and yet doesn't know the rules or how to enforce them, and wants clarification because she didn't want to be accused of being "partisan." Perhaps she would be less partisan if she wasn't a financial contributor to Activate Worcester, and didn't let Bonnie Johnson and the anonymous lawyer photograph, challenge, and harass voters. You will also note that Paul Franco is a contributor to Activate Worcester, and is also the head of the Worcester Republican Party, which is responsible for providing poll workers for our elections.  Here's the complete list of Activate Worcester donors.

Lastly, Bonnie Johnson, head of Activate Worcester testified (I would link to the website, but it disappeared when this controversy became public.  Here's a screen shot of their first event as a PAC.) 

Ms. Johnson's main point was that David Rushford kept on intimidating her by yelling at her and being a bully. She felt it was unfair she was singled out by the clerk for breaking the rules for poll observers. The other observer, "a white male caucasian from the ACLU and an atendee at Mary Keefe's victory party," was allowed to walk around the polling place while she had to sit in a chair that was later moved away from in front of the check-in table by the Clerk. 

While Ms. Johnson claims to be the victim of selective harassment (be careful there Bonnie, Mitt Romney says that victims automatically vote for Obama!), she neglects to connect the dots between her behavior and the unnamed ACLU observer.  The ACLU observer walked around the polling station, stood by the door, and even used his cell phone, per Jim Savage's affidavit filed with the Election Commission (you can find it in the minutes adopted by the Board of Election Commissioners on 9/20/12 here.)  In the testimony of multiple people before the Board on September 10th, multiple people, including City Councilor Sarai Rivera, detailed Ms. Johnson's and the unnamed lawyer's alleged actions where they photographed voters, demanded voter's identifications and attempted to photograph then, interacted with voters in violation of the rules regarding poll observers, demanded that all interactions be conducted in English, and even made video and audio recordings of the proceedings.  

How can she not see the difference between her alleged actions, and the anonymous 'ACLU' observer's actions?  Perhaps it is because of her partisan bias, which has no place in a clean and free election.