Every November of an election year, without fail, it will either be said to me,with the person knowing I am a political activist, or I will overhear it:”Ughh, why can’t there be more of a CHOICE of candidates to choose from on the ballot?”
The minute I hear that question or a variation of that question, I immediately think – ‘I am dealing with a “C” or a “D” voter’.
What does that mean?
Just like a credit rating, voters are rated.
Yes, fellow citizens, you have been assigned a ‘civic grade’. You get that grade from the time you have registered to vote.
You start out batting a 1000% when you register and then, when and if you miss elections~any election : local, state, federal, city, ballot, could be Town Meeting or Special Town Meeting or a Primary, or Special Elections – you miss any of these, and your ‘grade’, your ‘civic grade’ as a voter, as a citizen starts falling. You ‘civic grade’ gets mediocre.
Voting is a matter of public record. All campaigns know your voting history.
Let me re-emphasize that: ALL campaigns know how frequently you as a voter have voted throughout your life( to be really technical campaigns assign voter ID numbers on computer programs for outreach purposes).
They do not know who you have voted for, but they know you did, and when you did, and you have been assigned a grade – a rating: “A” voter – you would go and vote whether to open an envelope. My fellow activists and I fall under this category. ”B” voter – you tend to vote in primary and general elections and you may go to a Town Meeting if an issue moves you once in a while, but years could pass by before you attend another one, yet you are prized – getting your support is key to any candidates’ election strategy. “C” voter, you might come out and vote for the general election every 4 years and if a campaign can ‘turn you out’ during a Primary – that could be the difference between winning and losing. Your support is key as well if the field is crowded with candidates. “D” voter – you tend to vote only during Presidential Election years. As for “F” – well, I will say this – do not ever complain to me about current events if I find out you have never voted.
Why is this important?
This year, on the Democratic side, we have a plethora of candidates running for office – all good candidates. I can attest to that – I have been elected a delegate to the Massachusetts Democratic State Party Nominating Convention( more on that in a second) and I have met them.
In order for you, the voter, whatever your civic grade is, to see the names of these candidates on the Primary ballot, you have to sign their nomination papers.
To run for Governor, Lt Governor, and Attorney General in MA – you need 1o,ooo certified signatures.
To run for Secretary, Treasurer, and Auditor in MA – you need 5000 certified signatures.
To run for all County positions: 1000 certified signatures.
To run for St Senator – 300; St Rep. – 150 – all certified.
In addition – for the statewide offices – to get on the ballot as a Democrat, all of those candidates running for statewide office NEED to achieve 15% support of the delegates who were elected at the local caucuses that were held beginning in February and lasted into the beginning of March as well as ex- officio delegates such as Town Committee Chairs,Democratic State Committee people, Democratic office holders such as Mayors, St. Senators, and State Reps. Additionally, people can apply to be add-on delegates for specific categories: youth, minority etc, bringing the total to somewhere around 6000 people attending the Nominating Convention. 15% of that total. On the first ballot. Not easy. It is a big hurdle.
If they FAIL to get either the number of certified signatures required, OR, FAIL to receive 15% of the delegates support at the Nominating Convention, you will not see their name on the ballot.
So when you see people with clipboards standing outside supermarkets, libraries, at the town ‘transfer stations’, outside Town Meetings, at Malls, please, please, PLEASE take the time to sign these nomination papers.
You will be giving yourself a choice in September during the Primary and you can stop the complaining, that there is ‘never any choice’.
We have plenty of good choices this year and all it takes is your signature to insure that.