Liveblog of Massachusetts Board of Elections Meeting : Details of Bonnie and Romney Backed Voter Suppression Sept. 6th in Worcester, MA

5:54 – Mayor has asked to speak on numbers 7 and 8.

Petty — wants to make sure “everyone knows the rules, because I am not going to allow people to be intimidated when they walk into the polls.”

(much applause)

Wants poll observers to check their phones and cameras at the door and register.

Mentions that there are folks coming from other countries where they experienced oppression.

“There is no way under my watch we are going to allow this to happen.”…

6:00 – Everyone’s favorite district 5 Councilor, Bill Eddy!

Echoes the mayor in thanking them for their service.

“I know the majority of you personally” and that the commissioners take elections seriously.

The role poll observers play is “not the role they played last Thursday.”

“Looking for you to send the firmest message possible to uphold the rights of all our citizens.” says each party much respect the others’ rights.

6:03 – Sarai Rivera. “I’m not telling you by hearsay…I’m telling you because it happened to me. I was confronted” by hostile behavior. “I will not allow the voters in my district to be bullied or intimidated.” (much applause)

“I’m as American as apple pie…my husband is a war veteran.”

“I have the children, the house, even the dog and the fence.”

“People do not have the right to be intimidating or bullying.”

“I was being recorded, pictures were being taken.”

She was being challenged at every time when she tried to assist someone. She did not endorse any specific candidate.

“Your vote is your voice.”

Notes the Y youth are getting out the vote in a nonpartisan way.

Wants to know we are getting ready — the Council will stand together to protect people’s rights to vote.

Commissioner Goggins has a question for the councilor, to describe what happened to her.

6:07: Rivera: when she first went in, was called because they were passing out flyers in Wellington/Murray area.

When I arrived, there was a gentleman who was frustrated and couldn’t vote. Was asking the poll observer why the gentleman could not get a provisional ballot, was immediately challenged by a poll observer who refused to identify herself.

Rivera went to sit in a chair and the observer was negative, immediately challenging her.

[Q: how can somone challenge a vote without identifying themselves?]

observer then recorded a conversation.

Rivera then noted this to the poll workers, the observer then challenged it.

Rivera also notes that the poll workers were asking for ID, not proof of residence.

Poll observer stood in between poll workers, took phone out, and started taking pictures of the ID.

She was between the two poll workers, asking the spelling of names, etc. “Very hostile; I was laughing at how ridiculous. But poll workers and the warden should have been able to put a stop to this.”

[The manager offering more funding is like most men proposing marriage.]

6:13 – Councilor Rushton – “need to clamp this down now.” “Only takes a few bad apples and a few bad actions…”

“This is not 1950 and this is not southern Alabama.”

“We are becoming more diverse, with more languages spoken, every single day, and that’s a wonderful, wonderful thing.”

Sees some people in the audience who are responsible and hope they own up to their behavior.

“We slip back when we get off the issues;” we regress when we don’t do the things to make our community better.

6:16 – Councilor Palmieri – was stunned by Councilor Rivera’s remarks, that this could happen in this day and age in the city of Worcester.

“Nip this in the bud immediately”

6:20 – Worcester celebrity Gordon Davis – further intimidation is illegal, and people who do the intimidating can be sued.

“People who have been brought up in countries with oppressive police forces can be intimidated.” If those people come forward, Gordon will help them.

“If you intimidate us, we will get you somehow.”

“As soon as they pull [a recording device] out, arrest them.”

“We’re against fascism in all its forms.”

Asks everyone in the room and in the city to stand up to these fascists.

Francisco Ojeda (not sure of his name) – never missed an election in over 40 years. When he went to vote at Murray, saw people being asked for ID. Told the man we are not in Ohio. He says he was inactive, and pulled out his checkbook and felt there was racism going on when ID was asked for.

6:24 – asked for clarification. Says the poll worker at the check-in table asked for ID. Does not know if the other individual was on the inactive list or not.

6:25 – Sharon Williamson, poll worker – would give anything to not be here tonight. “Was it explained to people why sometimes we had to ask for ID because of voter certification problem?” Says they had to ask for ID for voter certificate problem.

Rushford – has reviewed provisions of law with elected officials.

Rushford – Have to be careful when looking at specific problems without all the information.

Williamson says she was here about intimidation. She says Rushford intimidated people at the polls.

Three times more people than they thought they would have.

Around 9 or 9:30, didn’t have many voters. Bonnie Johnson came in and introduced herself to everyone, asked warden where to sit. Gave her the place that would be best for everyone

Williamson said she thought Johnson was doing the job she thought she would. “This is not a political statement at all.” Wanted to get out of being a clerk.

Rushford came in, without asking clerks, in very loud voice said, “You. You. I don’t want you sitting there.”

[Williamson is not mentioning, of course, that she is married to Tea Party member Sandy Williamson.]

Doesn’t think there’s a problem with taking pictures of people in polls.

Two people said she was taking pictures, wants to know why those people didn’t come to the poll workers and went to Rushford.

“It was hearsay from two people.”

Rushford, quoted by Williamson: “I’m in charge of this today, you be quiet.”

Wanted to take Johnson’s phone.

She thinks he called two people over. Colorio says five.

“Imagine being a female and you have an imposing gentleman who obviously doesn’t like you and two policemen.”

6:34 – she still is talking, and now does her own hearsay (because she didn’t see it) but that’s ok because…?

“If you’re going to do it to one, do it to all.”

6:35 – Rushford asks for chance to rebut the “ridiculously” false allegations.

Conversation with Ms. Johnson is not the first one, nor is it the last one.

When he got to the polls, spoke with ACLU, poll workers, and police separately before taking any action.

Miss Johnson had moved herself to the front of the table, so that was the first person voters saw. He did instruct her to go behind the rail. “If I said that forcefully, I don’t apologize.”

He asked Ms. Johnson if she used her BlackBerry if she photographed or taped individuals, two gentleman from ACLU said she did, she said she did not. He said it’s “ridiculous” to say he asked to take her phone. He asked her to take the device and put it in her car, which she did.

7:13 – Kevin Ksen – was here last year after election, and spoke about similar things to what we’re hearing tonight. Those of us who have been part of this for a while now – this year marks a clear escalation in what we were dealing with last year. “An escalation, purposeful” – “active effort” by Activate Worcester to train and recruit poll workers.

“People shouldn’t leave today, or be watching today, and not end this without feeling that strong, swift actions” have been made against preventing people from voting.

7:15 – David Coyne – secretary of Worcester Democratic City Committee – in and out of poll half a dozen times….

Said he discussed with the clerk that it had been reported to mark the streets in D15 with chalk and that the chalk said “show ID to vote.” Something clearly intended to make people think if they don’t have ID they should be turned away.

There is video of at least one person slipping flyers telling people they need to show ID to vote at the Murray Apts.

“Effort to stop certain people from voting” – where black and Latino and Asian people, low income people vote.

“We must in Worcester put an end to this”; suggests criminal prosecution of those engaged in these activities.

Rest of Liveblog here


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