On the Ballot

It took less than a week for the town clerk to certify my signatures and get my nomination paper stamped by three of the town’s registrars of voters. Why does it take three registrars to certify that a candidate is registered to vote at the address she says she’s registered at? I don’t know, but as a Massachusetts native I’m sure that past political shenanigans made this precaution seem prudent.

Anyway, the town clerk called me, and I went down to town hall to pick my paper up.

Five of my 29 signatures turned out to be invalid: three because the voters didn’t give their street addresses, one because the signature was illegible, and one (I think) because the voter printed her name instead of signing it. Memo to self: If you ever do this again, pay closer attention to what your signers are doing or not doing.

That still left me with 24 valid signatures, 14 more than I needed, so I photocopied both sides of the paper and mailed the original off to the secretary of state’s office. Massachusetts being one of the four states that is officially a commonwealth, William F. Galvin is officially the secretary of the commonwealth of Massachusetts, but even state documents sometimes call him the secretary of state. The nation’s secretary of state deals with foreign policy. The commonwealth’s secretary of state administers elections, publishes and distributes an array of documents, and manages all sorts of written records, among other things.

Yesterday I received confirmation that my papers had been received on June 15. I am now officially “on ballot unless otherwise notified.”

The first item on the checklist is my signature following the statement “I accept the nomination.” The enrollment certificate is those three registrars swearing that I live where I say I live. The ethics receipt signifies that I’ve filed the Statement of Financial Interests with the State Ethics Commission. That’s the biggest hurdle this newbie candidate has cleared yet. A gold star would have been appreciated, but I’ll settle for the checkmark.

What’s really astonishing about this is that nomination papers aren’t due at the town clerk’s office till July 31 and they don’t have to be filed with the secretary of the commonwealth until August 28. I’m a chronically just-under-the-wire girl, and not infrequently I’m a little bit late. (Fashionably late? Never!) This time I’m two and a half months early.

This is good. Thursday night I’m going to my first Martha’s Vineyard Commission meeting since last fall. Commissioner Lenny Jason plans to introduce another motion to rescind the roundabout vote. If I weren’t on record as having accepted the nomination, I might decide (not for the first time) that running for the MVC is a monumentally stupid idea.

Or maybe I’ll decide that running is a good idea and it would even be OK if I got elected. I hear there were some fireworks at the last meeting, when Lenny merely announced that his intention to file another rescission motion. This part of the meeting seems to have gone missing from the MVTV video record. I’m taking my Flip camcorder just in case.

P.S. an hour later: I just watched the last few minutes of the June 7 MVC meeting. Lenny gets the floor around 2:52 and the tape ends when the chair closes the meeting at almost 3:08. Most of the discussion is about procedure. If there were any fireworks, they happened after the meeting. I’m taking my Flip anyway.

About Susanna J. Sturgis

Susanna edits for a living, writes to survive, and has been preoccupied with electoral politics since 2016. She just started a blog about her vintage T-shirt collection: "The T-Shirt Chronicles." Her other blogs include "From the Seasonally Occupied Territories," about being a year-round resident of Martha's Vineyard, and "Write Through It," about writing, editing, and how to keep going.
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6 Responses to On the Ballot

  1. Sharon Stewart says:

    Looks like one of the registrars signed upside down.


    • It might not be obvious from the scanned copy, but all the registrars have signature stamps. Between certifying elections and town meeting rosters and wannabe candidates, they probably do a lot of stamping. Stamp stamp stamp. It’s easy to stamp upside down. OTOH, I like the idea of the registrar signing while standing on her head . . .


  2. Anda Divine says:

    Congratulations, Susanna! Even if you wind up ruing this decision someday, at least you’ve taken a bold first step toward effecting positive change within the system instead of lobbing tennis balls (or whatever) from a safe distance..


  3. Paula says:

    Should be an interesting term, should you win election to the MVC, what with roundabouts, casinos, etc.


  4. Sara Crafts says:

    It concerns me (and Myrick) that traditionally motions to revisit (perhaps this doesn’t technically qualify; it’s a motion to rescind), and apparently there’s something in Roberts Rules about it, are filed by a member of the winning coalition, i.e. one of the people who originally voted for the roundabout. So I’m thinking you’re right, there will be fireworks. See you there!


    • Motions to reconsider have to be introduced by someone on the winning side. Not so motions to rescind. They went through all this last time. It’s a purely symbolic vote: now we know that nothing the MVC does can make a difference. (And why more people aren’t up in the air about that is beyond me.) But I’m intensely curious about how the discussion is going to go, and about some of the procedural questions, like will the people who didn’t participate in the original vote (e.g., Cabana and Newman) be allowed to vote this time. This is the first time the MVC has considered the matter since the referendum votes, and the election is a lot closer now than it was last November.


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