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Tables Turn in Worcester Voter Suppression Fight

Saturday, September 22, 2012


The City's Board of Election Commissioners declined to pursue an investigation into allegations of voter suppression during this month's state primary, and now some residents have come forward to criticize officials for their actions on that day.

"I think there's a lot of people saying things that I would never say if I didn't have proof," said Chris Pinto of the Republican City Committee.

"It's very irresponsible what these folks are doing."

Allegations Lacking

The claims in question include allegations of voter suppression and interference by poll observers stationed within polling locations, as well as reports of video and audio recording of voters.

However, the Election Commission chose not to pursue a criminal investigation into those claims at its meeting Thursday, citing a lack of specific evidence and opted to revisit the topic at its next meeting on October 11.

District 4 City Councilor Sarai Rivera, who could not attend the Election Commission's meeting due to a prior commitment, was one of the individuals that spoke before the Commission at its last meeting regarding voter suppression.

Firsthand Accounts

Rivera related how she was called to the polling location at 50 Murray Avenue after several voters said they were asked to present identification before voting.

When Rivera entered the polling place to assist a voter who had solicited her help, she said a poll observer attempted to record her the conversation she was having in Spanish with the voter.

"I'm still looking for a level of consequence and investigation," Rivera said on Friday.

"This isn't about hearsay but what many of us witnessed."

A memo prepared by City Solicitor David Moore later made clear that the Election Commission is the ultimate authority in nearly all election-related issues and that the polling place's warden retains the ability to request the assign police offer remove any non-compliant observers.

Jim Savage, who worked at the 50 Murray Avenue polling place that day, was the only individual to file an affidavit with the Election Commission.

In his account, Savage affirmed that no one was hassled or harassed during his time working there.

"It was pretty boring part of the day," he said.

Undue Influence

Ralph Perez, one of the five candidates in the contested Democratic primary for Worcester's 15th District State Representative seat, spoke out this week about Rivera's actions on election day, arguing that the Councilor abused her position by exercising undue influence at the polling place.

Rivera dismissed Perez's remarks, saying that the candidate was only trying to generate attention for his newly-announced write-in campaign in November.

"I went there because my constituents called me," Rivera said.

"That is my job. My job is to respond when people in my community are being affected. If I have to be there in November, I'm going to be there again."

EDITOR'S NOTE: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Bonnie Johnson was escorted by police from the 50 Murray Ave. polling place.  No observers or other individuals were ejected from the precinct.


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Iron Mike Farquhar

There ARE groups of people who are pretty open about their desire to inflate the voter rolls, the turnout, and the results – even if it means allowing non-citizens to vote.

The simplest way to stop this – and to keep voting clean in Worcester – and statewide – is to pass a Voter ID law.

Until we have a Voter ID law – cities like Worcester will always be under suspicion every election day. It just takes the action of a few to taint the entire city.

The solution is so simple, and so readily available, any group resisting it – particularly by the false claim that it's 'racist' – or that poor people can't get a picture ID – clearly have an interest in maintaining voter fraud.

Peter Stephens

Voter fraud is the most widely documented NON Existent problem in elections. Actual documented cases can be counted on one hand. Voter fraud is however widely cited as an excuse to enact restrictive Jim Crow laws like Voter ID or literacy tests or poll taxes which are really intended to disenfranchise voters disproportionately among groups who tend to vote democratic, i.e. poor, minority and elderly.

Scratch a voter fraud claimant/voter ID proponent and you will find a conservative/republican and or Yes, sometimes a racist

Sandy Williamson

Mr. Drici gets his facts way wrong when he says:
"On the day of the primary election, City Clerk David Rushford was called to the Murray Avenue polling place and, with city police officers, removed poll observer Bonnie Johnson from the location after she refused to leave her cell phone in her car while inside the polls."
He needs to contact Ms. Johnson and Mr. Rushford to review the facts of his statement. At no time was Ms. Johnson removed from the polling place by Mr. Rushford or the police.

Sandy Williamson

Amid all the claims and counterclaims of voter intimidation and/or suppression, I have yet to hear any logical explanation regarding the motivation for this alleged behavior in a PRIMARY election. Given the only significant election was the Democrats in the 15th district, does that suggest it was some Democrats intimidating other Democrats? The Republican races were all unopposed. The Republicans couldn't win a Democrat primary. So what exactly was the motivation for the alleged voter intimidation and/or suppression? The Republicans couldn't benefit if Democrats didn't show up. And Democrats couldn't benefit if Republicans didn't show up. So, it was only within party contests where any advantage could occur; and there was only one contest of any consequence. Maybe folks should look a little more closely there.

Peter Stephens

Good point, obtain a more vulnerable opponent?

Sandy Williamson

Peter, not that this article was about Voter ID, but you stated: "Scratch a voter fraud claimant/voter ID proponent and you will find a conservative/republican and or Yes, sometimes a racist." While this may be your opinion, it is certainly not supported by any facts.

In a recent New York Times/CBS News/Quinnipac poll of registered voters [http://blog.chron.com/txpotomac/2012/09/poll-overwhelming-public-support-for-photo-identification-laws/], the following question was asked:

“As you may know, there have been efforts in some states to require voters to show a photo identification card to vote. Some people say this is needed to prevent people from voting who are not eligible to vote. Other people say such efforts are designed to suppress voting by minority voters. What do you think? Do you support or oppose efforts to require voters to show a photo identification card to vote?”

The results found 70% favor, 28% oppose, with 2% unsure. So are 70% of Americans Republicans? Conservatives? "Sometimes Racist"? Obviously not. These results reflect fairly broad support across all segments of the voting population, absent some truly aberrant polling error. After all, do you want you vote diluted by one that isn't legitimate.

There are currently 31 states that require some form of ID to vote; 15 requiring photos. ALL have provisional ballots available for those who get to the polls without ID[this similar to MA when someone can't verify their address], and ALL make state issued ID's free. South Carolina went so far as to offer free rides to their citizens who needed help. Over the course of two weeks, less than one hundred took advantage of the offer. And, in the state of Georgia, voter turnout has increased in every demographic group since they passed an ID requirement.

Peter Stephens

That was a poll of registered voters, not a poll of those claiming voter fraud or of those pushing Voter ID laws. I believe I'm correct that those pushing those things are conservative/republican/and or racist given the LACK of actual voter fraud, which has been well documented.

Sandy Williamson

So it only matters to you what you allege partisans think, rather than what registered voters think? What do you think? Do you want your vote diluted by one that isn't legitimate?

Edward Saucier

I'm a registered voter and I think the wardens and the police can take care of any and all wrongdoings at the polls because that's their job. If there are certain places that need more policing then do it and enforce the laws. It's no big deal, so don't try to make it one.

Isn't it strange how the extremists can get certain people in an uproar? We used to complain that not enough people voted now we're looking for a problem that doesn't exist, voter fraud, and insist on voter IDs for everyone. Don't some of you get tired of being led around on a leash like a little dog?

Quit being foolish. Adapt, innovate, overcome.

Edward Saucier

GOoPers like Sandy Williamson can spin the voter ID laws all they want but as a matter of fact they do equal voter suppression.

"Illegal's" don't vote because they are afraid of getting caught. Voter ID laws are only in states that have republican governors. Voter ID laws have requirements that make it extremely hard or impossible to obtain for millions of people. Mass. republicans don't seem to get it or are in the bag with other republican extremists who are desperately trying to take away the voting rights of minorities in this country who generally vote democratic.

It's not the voter ID law in itself, it's the methods used to obtain them that are completely unfair and extremely biased. If some people would bother looking into how those other states are implementing their voter ID laws that should become quite clear.

Iron Mike Farquhar

Ed, we see right through you.

You would like voting officials and volunteers to take people 'at their word' that they are US Citizens when they enroll, and again 'take them at their word' when they show up to vote under a particular person's name.

Would you want your bank tellers to take me 'at my word' when I show up to draw out all of Edward Saucier's money? Or, would you want them asking for a photo ID?

Sandy Williamson

Ed's "Fairy Tales" (aka Ed's opinions) are back again:

Ed tells us FT#1 - "Voter ID laws are only in states that have republican governors."
The Facts - Ed's assertion is total rubbish. Ed never bothers to check his facts with a few minutes of research. That's why he can know so much,,,,,that isn't so. According to The National Council of State Legislatures, there are currently 33 states(up two from earlier this year) with some form of voter ID requirement: 17 have some form of photo ID, and 16 with something besides photo ID. Of the 33, 11 have Democratic governors, 21 have Republicans, and one is Independent. So 1/3 of the governors Ed tells us are Republicans, are in fact Democrats.

Ed tells us FT#2 - "Voter ID laws have requirements that make it extremely hard or impossible to obtain for millions of people."
The Facts - As noted above in an earlier post, all states with voter ID requirements have provisional ballots available for those who go to the polls without proper ID[this is similar to MA when someone can't verify their address], and ALL make state issued ID's free. Ed's completely unsupported claim that the ID requirements affect millions is simply nonsensical. If this were the case, then those same folks couldn't get on an airplane, or buy beer, or rent an apartment, or fill a prescription, or sign up for most any government benefits, or open a bank account, or even see a doctor.

Ed tells us FT#3 - "It's not the voter ID law in itself, it's the methods used to obtain them that are completely unfair and extremely biased. If some people would bother looking into how those other states are implementing their voter ID laws that should become quite clear."
The Facts - The details can all be found here http://www.ncsl.org/legislatures-elections/elections/voter-id.aspx. Please, take a look Ed and tell us specifically what's so egregious about the "methods" passed by 66% of the states, which are incidentally favored by 70% of registered voters.

Ed tells us FT#4 - "extremists who are desperately trying to take away the voting rights of minorities in this country who generally vote democratic."
The Facts - Ed provides no data or analysis to support the assertion that voter ID requirements affect minorities differently than other groups. What do we know? Since Georgia implemented voter ID requirements, turnout has increased for ALL demographic groups.

Edward Saucier

Atta girl Sandy, at least someone is paying attention. I should have said most states that have Voter ID laws that make it extremely hard or almost impossible to obtain required Voter ID are run by republicans and are formulated to suppress the vote of minorities who would vote democratic. I pulled a Scott Brown so don't get your panties in a knot. I think Rhode Island was the first Democratic state to do it.

Voter ID laws have been on the books since the Bush II regime. Broken down into four categories Strict Photo ID - Photo ID - Strict Non-Photo ID - Non Strict Non-Photo ID ...Lists the states and requirements
National Conference of State Legislatures

Wikipedia gives a breakdown of all countries Voter ID laws

The law looking for a problem - Everything You've Ever Wanted to Know About Voter ID Laws (ProPublica)

States that were run by Democrats don't make it impossible or even hard to get the necessary Voter ID documentation like their Republican "friends." Even some republicans among others think those hard nose Voter ID laws are meant for minority suppression. GOOGLE these:

Pennsylvania Voter ID Laws 'Stink,' Says Republican Community Leader - HuffPost
Wisconsin Republican Senator Believes Voter ID Will Help Romney 'In A Close Race' - ThinkProgress
Overt Discrimination in Ohio - NYTimes Editorial
ALEC-Linked Group Revealed As Major Secret Donor In Referendum On Maine Voting Rights
Arizona Model State for Voter Suppression - AFL-CIO Blog
Voter ID Laws Could Disenfranchise 1 Million Young Minority Voters Study - HuffPost
The Republican 'voter fraud' fraud - The Guardian UK
Florida Seniors Speak Out Against Voter Suppression - AFL-CIO NOW BLOG
Four GOP House Staffers From Michigan Indicted for Election Fraud - Alternet
GOP Voter Suppression, Veterans Edition - The Progress Report


Stephen Quist

Ed - when you apply the truth standard to these blogs it's easy to see who the extremists are.........and they are the usual suspects......and I am sure you know you last post cuts to the core of their false arguments.......
not one of these extremist can actually point to an example here in Worcester of voting fraud.
Because our elections are under the direct supervision of David Rushford and Josh Meduna..........
Nationally there is also not one glaring instance of voting fraud....the bottom line is voter id is based on phony premises and not based in an ounce of truth just an attempt to stifle, intimidate and suppression of peoples right to cast ballots unencumbered......those espousing voter id laws are plain UN-AMERICAN!

Peter Stephens

Even Republicans are finding little or next to none when it comes to voter fraud. Curiously the efforts seem to be focused on swing states!!

Stephen Quist

The sandy's and rusty mikes of this world are part and parcel of the problem - they certainly don't advocate for any type solution - only anti-American rhetoric......
They are looking for 'non-existant nefarious problems" that just don't exists whether it be in Worcester or across our country.
This is a concerted effort by the extremist republiCants / extremist teapartiers-activate worc......to suppress the vote, intimidate voters and create chaos in polling stations because they cannot win at the ballot box simply because they do not reflect the values and concerns of the average voter..........

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