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Monday, September 19, 2005

Voters’ guide to the Boston City Council

I went online to find a list of the City Council At-Large Candidates for the September 27th primary election.

Finding something like this should be easy. It's not.

The Boston Election Department has a list, but it's in PDF format! That is lame.

I converted it to text for you.

Boston City Council At-Large Candidates

for the/para las

John R. Connolly 12 Shaw Street District/Distrito 6
Roy Owens 6 Woodville Street District/Distrito 7
Kevin R McCrea 218 West Springfield Street District/Distrito 7
Althea Garrison 644 Dudley Street District/Distrito 7 Former State Representative Representante estatal anterior
Stephen J. Murphy 933 Metropolitan Avenue District/Distrito 5 Present City Councillor at Large Concejal municipal general actual
Edward M. Flynn 254 Gold Street District/Distrito 2 Veteran Veterano
Sam Yoon 39 Waldeck Street District/Distrito 4
Gregory Joseph O’Connell 39 Arborough Road District/Distrito 5
Martin J. Hogan 12 Linden Street District/Distrito 2
Patricia H. White 1052 South Street District/Distrito 6
Matt O’Malley 1385 Centre Street District/Distrito 6
Joseph Ready 27 Saint Stephen Street District/Distrito 8
Laura Garza 86 Orient Avenue District/Distrito 1
Michael F. Flaherty 1726 Columbia Road District/Distrito 2 Present City Councillor at Large Concejal municipal general actual
Felix D. Arroyo 5 Wharton Court District/Distrito 5 Present City Councillor at Large Concejal municipal generalactual

Bullet Voting
In the 2003 election Felix Arroyo spoke with the Boston Phoenix about bullet voting:
"Last time, Consalvo had a lot of bullet votes," Arroyo explains. In the at-large election, a voter can select up to four candidates because there are four spaces to fill; a bullet voter marks just one, thus guaranteeing a vote solely to that candidate and denying votes to any others. Arroyo’s suggestion is that, without the bullet tactic, Consalvo’s voters would also have voted for him in the previous election and will support him this time. (Consalvo denies asking for bullet votes in 2001.)

Those bullet votes are the stink bombs of the at-large race, and no candidate wants to be caught encouraging their use. But Arroyo is allowing his political ally Chuck Turner to call publicly for an Arroyo bullet vote, and doesn’t denounce it. "People have to do what they feel they ought to do. I do not encourage it or discourage it," he says.
I find this interesting.

I was never taught how to vote. Political junkies understand all the ins and out of voting, but I'd never really taken the time to think about bullet voting.

I would guess that many people, when presented with a ballot that says, "select up to four", would do just that, meaning that if they've got four votes they figure that they probably should use them.

Some voters go in and vote for only those candidates that they know something about, making an intelligent choice based on their knowlwdge of the candidates.

Other voters use the bullet voting technique and use just one of their four votes, giving their vote more weight since it's not diluted by three other votes. The mathmeticians out there will be able to explain this much better then I can.

Off On A Tangent Endorsement
Off On A Tangent endorses Matt O'Malley for City Council At-Large.

Give him all your votes. ;-)

Absentee Ballot
And don't get me started on finding out how to cast an absentee ballot. Again, the information is in PDF format over here. The web page says:
If you would like to vote by absentee ballot, you should download the Absentee Ballot Application, complete it and mail it in by the deadline.
Deadline. What deadline? It's unclear.

I read the PDF. It says:
This application must be received by noon on the day before the election.

The ballot will be mailed to you. You can then mail the ballot back to the city or town clerk or you (or a family member) may deliver the ballot in person to the city or town clerk.
Hmm. Interesting.

The City of Boston's web page should have been included in that voting rights lawsuit.

It's a disgrace. If English speakers can't figure it out how do they expect Chinese and Vietnamese speakers to?

On an ease of use scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being best, the City of Boston's web site rates a 1.

I'm being generous.


  1. Thanks Steve,

    I was just looking for a list of all of the candidates on some sort of official web site.

  2. Anonymous5:01 PM

    Wouldn't it be great if the list of candidates on the City of Boston Web site actually mentioned how many we get to vote for? Sheesh.

  3. Anonymous8:50 PM

    Thanks for putting this together. You have single-handedly outdone the Boston Elections Department.

  4. Anonymous2:36 PM

    I found a list easily at information about the candidates is what I can't find!

  5. Sample ballots should be available on the web so that people can get used to the ballot layout.

  6. Central office staff and the Staff Director at Boston City Council are appointees. The attitude toward the public of council office staff is bad. New council central office staff are needed, especially a new staff director is needed who is more knowledgeable about new technology that would make the council more accessible to the people. The council current central staff director holds back access by restricting the use of the web, blogging, wikis and email unreasonably.

  7. Anonymous8:12 PM

    the at-large candidates websites are:
    I couldn't find a website for Ed Flynn or Stephen Murphy, though Murphy has a page on the site.

  8. Ed Flynn does not believe in websites.

    He told me this when I met him at the Milky Way.

    He said he didn't think he needed a website.