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Mass Greens allege ballot irregularities

March 2 was supposed to be a big day for the Massachusetts Green-Rainbow Party. Thanks to the ballot status they achieved with Ralph Nader’s 2000 presidential run and retained with Jamie O’Keefe’s and Jill Stein’s respective runs for treasurer and governor (see "Power Broker," News and Features, March 12), members of the state’s Green Party — as well as any pro-Green independents — would be taking part in the presidential-primary process for the first time.

Instead, March 2 ended up being a debacle for state Greens. Green-Rainbow co-chair Grace Ross says that, after primary day, she was contacted by numerous frustrated Greens who reported serious Election Day irregularities. At one polling place, workers were apparently unaware the Green-Rainbow primary was taking place; they eventually found the party’s ballots in an out-of-the-way box. Another location reportedly had no Green-Rainbow ballots. At yet another, Ross says, a would-be voter who asked for a Green-Rainbow ballot was told none existed; a poll worker urged the would-be voter to register as a Democrat or Republican and then vote in one of those parties’ primaries — something that would clearly have violated state election law. And, Ross adds, she’s heard that some Green-Rainbow ballots — which need to be tallied by hand rather than automatically scanned — were inadvertently fed into automatic-scanning machines and thereby destroyed. "The list goes on and on," Ross says of the complaints. "It’s a mess."

When the first complaint — from a woman who couldn’t get a Green-Rainbow ballot — surfaced, the party sent a letter of complaint to the Elections Division of Secretary of State William Francis Galvin’s office. At this point, however, the party has yet to detail all the additional complaints for state officials. And — unfortunately for disgruntled Green-Rainbows — it may be too late for the state to take action. "I think it’s important for people to know that if they run into problems at a polling place, the time to check it out is right then, because it can be resolved in many places," says Brian McNiff, Galvin’s spokesperson. McNiff also notes that, in a memo sent out before primary day, Galvin’s office specifically reminded poll workers that the first Green-Rainbow primary was about to take place.

When the Phoenix went to press, the results of the inaugural Green-Rainbow primary had yet to be tabulated. When the final delegate count is tabulated, the array of glitches may leave many Green-Rainbows feeling that the process was hopelessly compromised. Citing the relatively small number of Green-Rainbow voters, Ross says, "My concern is that a few votes one way or another could make a difference in terms of the delegates that we’re supposed to be sending to the national convention. If it was more votes, it might not matter so much. But if it’s really only a few votes, then it’s going to matter."

Stay tuned.

Issue Date: March 19 - 25, 2004
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