“Massachusetts no longer has a functioning democracy” according to Juan Sanchez, candidate for Secretary of the Commonwealth. “Over 70% of the seats in the Massachusetts House of Representatives are held by legislators who did not have to run against an opponent to win their seat. Citizens should be able to use their vote to hold incumbents accountable, but this is impossible when there is only one name on the ballot. The avoidance of electoral accountability feeds the arrogance and indifference that are on display every day on Beacon Hill. We need to restore competition to the system. In doing so, we will guarantee that voters are once again more powerful than the special interests that cultivate cozy relationships with our electoral politicians.
Sanchez, who is running for Secretary as a Green-Rainbow Party candidate, asserted that the Secretary must provide leadership in restoring a healthy democracy.
“The Secretary oversees our electoral process and is responsible for making sure that voters are informed, that candidates are treated fairly, and that our electoral system is operating as intended. But the current Secretary has spent 24 years presiding over a system of incumbent protection that increasingly ensures that members of his own party are protected from the voters. A study of competitiveness in 44 states for which data was available in 2016 found that Massachusetts was dead last in terms of competition for office. Our current Secretary has not even acknowledged the problem, much less advanced solutions. I’m running for Secretary because I think the voters deserve better.”
Noting that in Massachusetts, incumbents are reelected 96% of the time, Sanchez added “I will work with concerned citizens and public interest groups to dismantle the system of incumbent protection that has been put in place by Beacon Hill. We need to ban the accumulation of massive campaign warchests that discourage competition. We need to create an independent redistricting commission that draws district boundaries to promote competition, not to protect incumbents. We need to restore a Clean Elections system that keeps special interest money from dominating our elections. We need to reduce the barriers to ballot access that prevent candidates from getting on the ballot. We need to enact ranked choice voting to give voters more choices on the ballot. And we need to demand that incumbents stop ducking debates. We can have a much healthier democracy. Our current Secretary has given us 24 years of silence on these badly needed solutions. It’s time for a change.”
“Because Democrats hold about 80% of the seats in the Massachusetts Legislature - a veto-proof majority - they could have implemented these reforms at any time.” Sanchez noted. “Not only has the legislature killed all attempts at reform, they have made things worse by doubling the size of the big checks that wealthy donors can write for politicians. The incumbent protection system is clearly unfair to Republicans, independents, and third parties. It is also unfair to Democrats who want to challenge their own party’s incumbents. It ensures that there is no turnover on Beacon Hill and that big money interests can work behind the scenes and control our legislature. This is not the democracy promised to us in our state constitution.”
“The Secretary of State is a watchdog office that should be advocating for the voters and not just protecting those who have taken power. I’m running to give voters a chance to put someone in office who is independent of the big political machines - someone who - for the first time in many years - will stand up to the insiders on Beacon Hill. Restoring a real democracy in Massachusetts begins with voting for change and not accepting the status quo.”