- Politics and Social Issues
Sanders Voters in MA to Sue Bill Clinton for Trampling on Voting Rights - Seek Delegates be Awarded to Bernie
Invoking voting rights laws and precedents commonly cited in such cases, a group of Bernie Sanders supporters who voted for Sanders in the Massachusetts Primary on March 1st are confronting what they say was illegal campaigning by Bill Clinton on behalf of Hillary Clinton. On that Tuesday, known as "Super Tuesday," reports emerged, to the consternation of Sanders supporters, that Bill Clinton was illegally campaigning within 150 feet of polling stations during voting hours, in some cases walking inside the stations, all of which Massachusetts law expressly prohibits. Laws governing how close to a polling station one can campaign on voting days are similar in all 50 states.
A draft copy of a civil action posted in a Drop Box account states:
"On March 1st, “Super Tuesday” in the Massachusetts Democratic primary...Bill Clinton, did disenfranchise a large group of voters by diluting their votes through illegal campaign activity in and near polling stations. This disenfranchisement was deliberate, carefully crafted, and effective."
The voters contend that far more than being a nuisance and exhibiting thoughtless disregard for the law, Clinton's actions were:
"carefully and deliberately calibrated to impact the electoral battlefield in such a way that the entire course of future primaries was affected."
The lawsuit takes note that throughout the day of the Massachusetts primary, Clinton and Sanders were "neck and neck," according to NBC News, with Sanders at one point pulling ahead. Boston Patch reporter Alison Bauter wrote afterwards that Massachusetts was considered by some to be a "must-win" for Sanders, as any momentum he had might have had would be stopped by a loss there. In the end Clinton won seven out of 11 races in states which were voting on that day, with Sanders taking four.
The complaint states:
"Given the large number of “undecided” voters and the extremely narrow margin of victory for Hillary Clinton, there was sufficient fluidity in the race for Bill Clinton’s illegal electioneering to have made a significant impact, and to have reversed the verdict of the voters by handing victory to Clinton rather than to Sanders. With 100,00 undecided voters and a margin of victory of only 16,800 votes, it is eminently plausible that Bill Clinton impacted the final result.
Hillary Clinton won the race by 1.4%.,
A February 28th Suffolk University poll showed 8% of likely Democratic primary voters to be undecided just two days before the primary, which would mean roughly about 100,000 votes. 1.2 million people voted in the Massachusetts Democratic primary on Super Tuesday, equaling the record number of voters who turned out in that primary in 2008, for Obama and Hillary Clinton. After Super Tuesday of that year, super delegates and endorsements quickly began to shift to Obama.
The lawsuit also names Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin as a defendant, and claims Galvin in essence looked the other way while Bill Clinton broke the law. The complaint reads:
"Secretary Galvin issued a statement during the controversy...which declared that Clinton’s entering the polling places alone was not illegal, as long he did not utter words such as “vote for Hillary.” This notion is beyond absurd. The former president did not land at ground zero of a key battleground state and enter the polls because there was no place else to get a cup of coffee. Bill Clinton does not need a button or a sign (which it is illegal to wear or display inside a polling place.) In his very person, the presidential candidate’s fabulously famous husband amounts to a walking, talking sign for Hillary."
Once inside the West Roxbury and Newton polling places, Clinton can be seen in videos and photographs shaking hands with election workers, having pictures taken with people, and charming the star-struck with his full security and media entourage in tow. In another video, the complaint notes, Clinton can be seen speaking through a bullhorn within 150 feet of a polling station and saying "I want to especially thank those of you who are supporting Hillary.”
The complaint says:
"Throughout the day, Bill Clinton was in campaign mode for his wife, as his motorcade, security detail, and large entourage occasionally reportedly blocked people from voting at the times they had set aside to do so, due to his large security presence and security requirements."
Lawsuit participants contend that shaking hands, having pictures taken, chatting and otherwise generating goodwill for a candidate, by her unabashedly partisan spouse who had no other business in the polling station, constitutes campaigning. At one point during the day, video shows Clinton apologizing to an audience that he was so hoarse from speaking that he had lost his voice.
In New Bedford, MA a fresh issue arose when the Sanders campaign received reports of people being hindered from voting at a polling place because of Clinton's appearance and security measures. The woman narrates:
“I haven’t seen one person be able to come in and be able to vote in here. Everything is blocked off. No person can park here. They are affecting the voting at this poll. It’s ridiculous. It’s fraud and illegal. From one side of the street to the other, there’s no way anybody can get down here to vote.”
Woman complaining people cannot vote because of Clinton security
The plaintiffs in the suit are as of yet unnamed, but say they will be filing this coming week, in Boston Federal Court. They are asking a judge to invalidate the Massachusetts results in punishment for Clinton's actions, exacerbated by his long reach, and to award the Massachusetts pledged delegates to Bernie Sanders. The plaintiffs argue:
"To merely reapportion a small number of delegates would do nothing to discourage similar future violations of electioneering laws, because in some cases, a small risk for getting caught might be worth it."
The plaintiffs say:
"Bill Clinton’s illegal activity throughout the day was neither trivial nor inconsequential. It significantly diluted the votes of people who in good faith voted for Bernie Sanders."
The plaintiffs contend that the remedy should be proportionate to the harm done. In the immediate outrage which scorched the Internet over Clinton's actions, a petition was started calling for his arrest which generated over 100,000 signatures at Change.org. Lawsuit organizers on Bernie Sanders Facebook pages are looking for other plaintiffs to step forward in the class action suit. These would be Massachusetts Sanders voters who believe they were "harmed," in legal parlance, by Clinton's alleged violations.