Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Second Suffolk Recount, Mostly

Let's say it up front. The Boston Globe is doing a good job on the recount for the Second Suffolk Senate primary race.

Regular readers know we see it as a disgrace that the big local paper runs press releases from the MBTA and police. For example, it's shameful that they have followed up neither the man who died on the Orange Line tracks nor on the city cop who plowed into a car on Route 128, killing the driver. For the latter, was he on alcohol or some other drug, was he tested, was her car in the breakdown lane, and were its flashers on? The fact that none of that ever came out suggests the worst of both the cop and the investigating officers. Left to its own though, the Globe is unlikely to tell us, unless the widower files a lawsuit.

To the matter at hand, Sonia Chang-Diaz was left 692 votes behind out of about 25,000 cast. She had a Monday 5 p.m. deadline to gather signatures for a recount. That was a big strain on a newcomer but normally okay. However, the city and state had done a mini-count on 8 wards whose write-in/sticker votes were not tallied at all. That was a distraction.

Now, it appears:
  • Chang-Diaz' sigs met the minimum 50 per in 8 of 10 wards of the district.
  • Recounts on those start Friday.
  • She didn't have enough in the Grove Hall/Franklin area or Chinatown.
  • Incumbent Dianne Wilkerson, also a write-in/sticker candidate, supports the recounts, but only in areas of Roxbury, the South End and upper JP, where she is strong.
  • Chang-Diaz is filing a lawsuit in Superior Court for an extension on her two missing wards because of the odd partial ballot count.
Chang-Diaz has not conceded yet. She brings to mind Cicero's dum spiro spero -- while I breathe, I hope. Yet, it could well happen that she wins...unlikely but possible.

Meanwhile, she's doing for all of us. Forcing the recount with a highly questionable and incompetent poll job on these votes is the right thing. We need to believe that our votes count, each one. At present, no one can be sure. Also, it is likely that the final tally will differ from the current one, damning for the whole process.

Ethics/voter rights secretary-of-state candidate John Bonifaz must be alternately smirking and stomping. The current SoS Bill Galvin certainly should have whipped into action with Mayor Tom Menino to require the full recount. Hanging on to the literal interpretation of the recount rules spits on the voters.

It's a pity Lyndon Johnson isn't still president. I'd bet that Galvin and Menino, and maybe Gov. Willard Romney would get persuasive calls, inspiring them to act or have the feds help them.

At the least, any poll worker who chose not to count ballots or locked away the write-in class ones to avoid democracy needs to be canned. They don't get paid much, but they do have as a rule a strong insider identity in this process. I'm sure we can find enough of us who are willing to do the job, the whole job.

So where was Billy Galvin when the trouble came down? It's all cupcakes and milk to be the boss when things go well. It's when there's trouble that we find out who's a leader.

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