Here’s what the Dem. Candidates for Secretary of State said


“It’s time for greater transparency in the office and now is the time to do it.”

William Galvin and Tanisha Sullivan are running in the Democratic primary to become Secretary of State for Massachusetts. Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff

The Massachusetts Secretary of State primary election has become an intergenerational debate over who best represents the state when it comes to voter fairness, historic preservation, and election retention.

Tanisha Sullivan, the 48-year-old president of the NAACP Boston, is challenging longtime incumbent William Galvin, who has held the position for seven consecutive terms.

While Galvin has been in office since 1995, Sullivan, who has never held political office, was the Democratic Party’s pick at the state convention in June.

The Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is the state’s top election official and is also responsible for state records such as deeds, business registration, and historical and public records.

Sullivan and Galvin are set to face each other in the Democratic primary on Tuesday, September 6. The winner is expected to challenge Republican candidate Rayla Campbell, who is running unopposed.

Both Democratic candidates answered questions from about the key issues shaping the position. Read their responses below.

Your mandate precedes the next census. How would you use the four years to adequately prepare for the residents of Mass. are counted accurately?

Galvin: The best strategy is to educate the community and have meaningful conversations about the census. Listen to concerns, then explain why it is in everyone’s interest to complete the census form. With so many at stake, such as Congressional allocation and precise population numbers determining federal money for the services people use, it’s more important than ever to have these conversations.

Sullivan: Every decade, elected leaders prepare our communities for “an undercount”. We are told which communities may be part of this undercount and these are primarily communities with higher numbers of people of color, immigrants and low income people. When I took the census, people say they don’t trust the government and they don’t want the government in “their business”. As Secretary of State, I will begin day one to work to build trust with these communities to help build confidence in the census count. I will do this by making sure that [Secretary of State] office has a constant presence in communities and works alongside trusted community organizations. It is not enough to write a check to pay for outreach, there must be a physical presence in these communities to build the trust necessary to break the cycle of census undercounts. This is critically important as low census numbers impact the funding communities receive, and our most vulnerable communities need this financial support.

Massachusetts has been called “the least transparent state in the country.” How do you plan to improve and implement transparency of public access to current and historical records?

Galvin: I have vigorously enforced the right of citizens to have access to all types of public documents. I also advocate legislation that would subject the Governor’s office to the Public Records Act, as I strongly believe that more transparency means more accountability. It is also important to note that all of the gubernatorial candidates agree with me on this legislation. It’s time for greater transparency in the office and now is the time.

Sullivan: Massachusetts is the cradle of our democracy and to have the shadow of this nickname is a shame. We should be the most transparent and accessible government. As Chief Information Officer, the Secretary has an important responsibility to ensure that the public has timely access to public records and information. It is an essential check and balance in our democracy. As Secretary of State, I will work in partnership with our legislature to address the general public records exemptions applied to our state government and convene stakeholders to identify critical exemptions to public disclosure.

What do you think of the VOTES law excluding same-day voter registration? How exactly would you implement or remove it during your tenure?

Galvin: I will continue to advocate for Election Day registration in Massachusetts, as I have for the past 15 years. Although I have successfully pushed through legislation to make voting easier and modernize our election laws, including early voting in person and early voting by mail, the Legislative Assembly has yet to approve day registration. of the ballot. But that doesn’t mean I won’t stop fighting to get it through. Election Day registration improves the voting process and is safe and secure. A top priority for me is to finally pass and implement Election Day registration in Massachusetts.

Sullivan: Maine adopted same-day voter registration in 1973, nearly half a century ago. Since then, twenty more states, including every other New England state, have adopted some form of same-day voter registration. As a result, other states have knocked down one of the biggest barriers to voting for people of color, working people, low-income communities, and other vulnerable communities. Massachusetts still does not have [same-day registration] …as Secretary, I will do this by partnering with voting rights organizations and community actors to help educate the public about Election Day registration, supporting efforts to explore the possibility of a ballot question to give MA voters the opportunity to decide for themselves, and provide additional support to local election officials to help implement this important right.

What would you advise potential voters who may have concerns about mail-in voting and election security in general?

Galvin: I insisted on using only paper ballots in Massachusetts and on maintaining a closed network of voter registration information accessible via the Internet. We have also created elaborate firewalls and security procedures to protect this system. We worked with our local election officials to ensure they are trained and helped them create business continuity plans for cyber incidents as well as other issues that could impact election administration.

Sullivan: As a civil rights leader, I understand how important it is to have safe and accessible elections that we can trust. It is the cornerstone of a strong democracy. The January 6 uprising reminds us that our democracy is still young and fragile. Threats to our democracy are both foreign and domestic; therefore, we cannot take for granted that the civil rights we gained in the 1960s and 1970s will remain. As Secretary of State, I will ensure Massachusetts leads the nation in election security, working with cybersecurity experts, technologists, and election experts to ensure election security, [and] propose legislation requiring audits limiting the risks of our elections and submit the office to an independent audit. For our military overseas, I will work to fix the current system to ensure they can vote safely and privately.

Much of your work is the preservation of history: what do you think of the effort to redesign the Massachusetts state seal?

Galvin: The Special Commission on the Official Seal and Motto of the Commonwealth was established by the Legislature. As Secretary of State, I have two appointees on the commission. It is important to allow the commission to go through a thorough and thoughtful process to consider the redesign of the state seal and motto.

Sullivan: In Massachusetts, where our history is so rich, the Secretary has the responsibility to lead the discovery, preservation and sharing of our diverse history. This requires the secretary to understand that our history is not static and multi-faceted, requiring us to examine our symbols, our curriculum, and how we view the history of the various people who make up our great Commonwealth. To this end, I support the work of the Special Commission on the Official Seal and Motto of the Commonwealth. We must ensure that any symbol representing the Commonwealth honors our past, recognizes our present and defines a vision of who we aspire to be. We must also be intentional in including federal and state-recognized tribes in this important work. Finally, we must support and fund a strong K-12 civics curriculum that helps prepare each new generation with the knowledge and understanding they need to move this work forward.


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