Guest blogged by Winter Patriot
The next Ned Lamont is just across the Connecticut border in Massachusetts, where voting rights leader John Bonifaz is similarly taking on the Democratic Party establishment in his grassroots campaign for Secretary of State. Bonifaz, a Democrat who sued George Bush on the eve of the Iraq war on behalf of soldiers, families of soldiers and members of Congress trying to prevent the illegal invasion, squares off against the incumbent, Bill Galvin, on September 19.
But the Lamont connection runs even deeper. Bill Hillsman, the media guru who produced the winning ads for Lamont and Paul Wellstone, is eager to jump into the race on the Bonifaz campaign, which could be the final ingredient that puts John over the top. What John needs now is the financial support to make the Hillsman addition a reality --- and if he can raise $25,000 by August 23, it will happen.
Meeting this goal would lead to Hillsman joining the campaign through the primary and the production of ads that would be used on the air, on the web and as tools for further fundraising success. Please go to John’s web site today to help make this winning combination possible. Your contribution is vital. We must support Democrats who stand up against entrenched interests and stand up for our rights as voters.
John Bonifaz has committed his life to protecting the rights of voters, standing up to entrenched power and reducing the influence of money in politics. He led the fight in the federal courts for a full recount of the 2004 presidential vote in Ohio. He is exactly the type of leader we need --- not just as Massachusetts Secretary of State, but across the nation.
Standing up to the insiders is nothing new for John Bonifaz. When the Massachusetts Legislature refused to fund the voter-passed Clean Elections Law, he won a landmark victory for voters from the Supreme Judicial Court, which ordered the Legislature to fund qualified candidates in 2002. John’s opponent was silent during this time, refusing to protect the will of the voters.
At this moment, John’s opponent has not only admitted that the state will fail to meet the September 19 deadline for having the required new technology for voters with disabilities in place --- and poll workers properly trained --- but he is also seriously considering purchasing Diebold electronic voting machines for Massachusetts. The state already uses Diebold’s AccuVote machines in many cities and towns.
Under the current Secretary’s watch, Boston, Lawrence, Lowell and Springfield are all under separate Justice Department investigations for potential voting rights violations. According to a report by the Caltech/MIT Voting Technology Project, approximately 122,000 Massachusetts voters were unable to vote in 2000 due to registration problems or difficulties encountered at polling locations. Last year, MassVOTE, a non-partisan voting rights organization, reported that in 2004, at least 100,000 and as many as 200,000 voters were denied the right to vote when arriving at the polls.
As Secretary of State, John Bonifaz will create an election system that will serve as a model for the rest of the nation. He'll also use the position as a platform to pressure other secretaries of state to protect voting rights rather than exclude voters to skew election results --- as was the case with Katherine Harris in Florida and Ken Blackwell in Ohio.
The next week is crucial. John needs our support to help put him over the top. This is too great and too important an opportunity to pass up. Please make a contribution today.