Cos (cos) wrote,

John Bonifaz

[ Massachusetts people: Today is the deadline to register to vote. Every city & town's elections department or clerk's office is open until 8pm today for people to register in person; mailed forms must be postmarked by today. ]

I'm a paid blogger.

Since the spring, I've been working part time as the campaign blogger for John Bonifaz, running for secretary of state in Massachusetts. The Secretary's most important responsibility is being in charge of elections - you may remember Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris who caused the debacle in Florida in 2000 by refusing to allow counties time to hand-count the votes and insisting on certifying uncertain results; you may remember Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell who tried to suppress voter registration in 2004, and also prevented a full count afterward. In fact, his opponent in the court battle over counting the votes was the very same John Bonifaz, who flew to Ohio the day after the election and was lead counsel for the candidates who went to court to ask Ohio to count all the votes.

Bonifaz is a national leader in advocating for voting rights and election reform, and an amazing candidate for this office:
  • He founded the National Voting Rights Institute in 1994 and has led it since then.
  • He was the lead counsel in the court fight to count the votes in Ohio after the 2004 election.
  • When the MA legislature tried to not fund a voter-approved clean elections law in 2002, Bonifaz successfully beat them in court and got clean elections candidates funded.
  • He proposes a voters' bill of rights as the core of his platform.
  • For his innovative legal work on campaign finance reform, the MacArthur Foundation awarded him a grant, commonly known as "the genius award"
  • He's also the co-founder of the After Downing Street coalition, and was the lawyer who sued the Bush administration in federal court in early 2003 saying they had no legal authority to invade Iraq - the court agreed with his arguments but decided a remedy was not possible so threw out the suit, and he wrote a book about it, Warrior King.
... but despite his tremendous qualifications, he's expected to lose to an incumbent who's been asleep at the wheel. We've got an exciting race for Governor this year, while most voters barely even remember there is such an office as "secretary", let alone who's running for it. People will go to the polls to vote for governor, and they'll see two names for Secretary: Bill Galvin, and John Bonifaz. Bill Galvin's name will probably be familiar - as the incumbent, he's got his name plastered at the top of every voter registration form, the state elections web site,, every flyer the secretary of state's office produces, and over the 12 years he's been in office, he's been in the news a number of times. A lot of voters will see a familiar name and an unfamiliar name, and vote for the former.

Galvin has been avoiding Bonifaz, and every invitation to a debate or forum with him, all year - until this week! If you're in Boston, please come to the candidate forum tonight at Medford City Hall:
    Democratic candidates for Secretary of State
    Wednesday, August 30th, 7:00pm
    Medford City Hall (second floor)
    free and open to the public
Even though he's running for a Massachusetts office, I joined his campaign because I think it's of national importance. You may know that in 2004 I helped organize a press conference about electronic voting machines, registered voters in Ohio, then went to Florida to volunteer for Election Protection. I'm convinced that we've got a serious voting rights & election integrity crisis, and to fix it, we need to elect reformers to office. Most especially, we need to elect some great Secretaries of State all around the country, who will show some real leadership.

So, I've been blogging for Bonifaz since late March, promoting him online. I've made the blog interesting to readers from out of state by covering hot topics in election reform, such as renewing the Voting Rights Act, the Busby/Bilbray special election in California, the protests after the Mexican election, Verified Voting's call for volunteers, an editorial about Diebold voting machines in Utah, the Vermont campaign finance case in the Supreme Court, and an excellent report on CourtTV about election integrity problems.

If what happened in Florida and Ohio disturbed you, if you know (or fear) that things like this are happening all around the country, if you'd like to see some national leadership on these issues, this is my invitation. Watch John Bonifaz' speech at the state convention. Wherever you are, read the Bonifaz blog and make comments (seeing comments will make other readers more likely to return). If you live in Massachusetts, make sure you're registered to vote, and vote on September 19th. Whether you're in Massachusetts or not, spread the word, send or post links, contribute (we need to get TV ads up or voters will have no idea who Bonifaz is), and comment on the blog.

If you're nearby, come to the forum in Medford this evening! See you there, I hope. [Update: Galvin didn't show up in Medford, and says he never planned to. He didn't come to the forum in Worcester the following night either. The press still isn't reporting on this, but most of the blogs are pissed. ]

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