John Bonifaz's Speech to the Massachusetts Democratic Party Convention:
My name is John Bonifaz and I am a Democratic candidate for Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
I am running for Secretary of State because I believe we need a progressive leader in that office who will fight to safeguard our democracy and to protect our right to vote, who will work to create a model for free and fair elections for Massachusetts and for the nation, and who will not be afraid to stand up to entrenched power.
For the past dozen years, as the founder of the National Voting Rights Institute and as a public interest attorney, I have been working on these very issues.
When George W. Bush was rushing to take this nation into war against Iraq, I stood up. I sued the president on behalf of a coalition of United States soldiers, parents of soldiers, and Democratic Members of Congress, challenging the president for lacking the constitutional authority to launch a first-strike invasion of Iraq.
When Beacon Hill refused to fund the Massachusetts Clean Elections Law, I took the legislature to court on behalf of a coalition of voters and candidates. And we won.
And, after the 2004 election, when we began to hear widespread reports of voting irregularities coming out of Ohio, I went to Ohio. I fought for a full recount of the presidential vote there, a fight that took us all the way to the federal courts.
Since announcing my candidacy last December, I have traveled across this state, from the Berkshires to the Cape, from South Dartmouth to Newburyport. I have had the opportunity and pleasure to meet many of you. I have learned an enormous amount in this process. And I have listened.
I have heard many Democrats say that they believe that voters should have choices, that elections should be contests of ideas, and that competition is healthy for our democracy. I have heard many say that politics has moved away from the people, that our system is too dominated by big money, and that the voices of ordinary citizens are being drowned out. And I have heard many say that they are ready for a fresh wind of change.
I ask for your support today to help place me on the primary ballot. Massachusetts Democratic Primary voters deserve an open and honest debate on the state of our democracy and, especially, on the state of our right to vote.
Let us discuss why the Justice Department is investigating Boston, Lawrence, Springfield, and Lowell for potential violations of the Voting Rights Act and why Boston is facing election monitoring for not providing proper assistance to language minorities.
We deserve a Secretary of State who will work for progressive electoral reform, not someone who works behind the scenes with Republican members of the state legislature to kill a Democratic bill for Election Day Registration.
We need to know why the Secretary of State did not fully investigate allegations of fraud in the signatures submitted for the anti-gay marriage ballot initiative. Let us discuss why he certified all of the signatures in the face of these fraud charges.
I want to be clear. None of these questions are personal against Secretary Galvin. I know he is a good man. But, delegates, these are the issues and, as Democrats, we must discuss them in an open and transparent manner, not disregard them by labeling them as negative.
As your Secretary of State, I will work to advance a new Voters ' Bill of Rights to expand our political process and to make our democracy work for all of us.
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