Friday, September 22, 2006

Beantown Ballots Blow

Back in Boston, the Second Suffolk Senate FUBAR raises the question of which is worse:
  • An election system that citizens cannot rely on to count their votes?
  • Voters who reelect the rascal as hero instead of installing an honest legislator?
As of late last night, the count of 8 precincts whose write-in ballots were added to the tally only after a court order seemed to have extended incumbent Dianne Wilkerson's total margin over second-place reformer, newcomer Sonia Chang-Diaz. Previously, she was ahead by 141 votes and after the missing precincts received a public tally at Boston City Hall, the difference may be over 900.

At the Herald last evening, Kimberly Atkin's ran the mayor's statement:
The unofficial count of the eight remaining precincts by the city'’s Elections Department this afternoon showed that incumbent Senator Dianne Wilkerson won the Second Suffolk Senatorial race. Wilkerson had an additional 946 votes to challenger Sonia Chang-Diaz'’s 385 in the eight uncounted precincts, bringing the unofficial total of votes to Wilkerson 6,395 to Chang-Diaz'’s 5,703.
She added:
The total number of ballots cast in the wards and precincts in this senatorial district is 25,423, with 12,490 blank votes and 12,933 votes in this race. Challenger John Kelleher had 403 total votes and challenger Samiyah Diaz had 302 total votes.
Even if we assume that the votes from the 8 missing precincts were accurate, Chang-Diaz reasonably is considering what to so. Wilkerson, for the third time, has declared victory. That is the New England way of debate -- shout it and repeat it until people accept your position.

Today, the Globe reports that Chang-Diaz "has hired election lawyer William McDermott to discuss whether to pursue a recount." If she does, she would only have the weekend to gather the 500 signatures required.

With the voting irregularities posted on by Cos yesterday, a reasonable mayor and secretary of state would start a recount of all write-ins in this race. Wilkerson likely would remain on top, but that at least would:
  1. Give citizens some confidence in this process.
  2. Show state and local officials what our bumbling poll workers and managers need to know to do their jobs minimally.
So, we are left with the philosophic and civic question of why, why the devil, how in hell could voters return Wilkerson to office? She likes to say, "I'm not perfect. I'm a work in progress." That excuses nothing. Scandal after scandal, she has shown a disregard for laws and regulations, and for the voters.

She had championed solid legislation for years. Indeed, she deserves praise for that. Yet, it is well past time for someone who cannot manage her personal life well enough to avoid convictions, fines and other distractions from her duties to move aside.

Boston voters share their love of picaresque politicians with such traditionally corrupt cities as Chicago and New Orleans. We need to get over that. We should not accept the terrible with the good. With bright, focused progressive candidates like Chang-Diaz we can have good legislation from an honest and honorable legislator.

We should not have to cede trust to get decent laws.

Follow-Up Editorial: The Globe came on heavy in an editorial today on this. It reads that even with one to three training sessions, the city polling folk blew this. It calls for an extra-Boston investigation right now. "The secretary of state's office is the right place to launch such a probe. And with the final election just over six weeks away, there is no time to waste."

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