Boston City Councilor and candidate for Mass. Secretary of State Josh Zakim says scheduling the state primary election day for September 4 was a mistake, criticizing incumbent Sec. William Galvin for choosing the day after labor day and for many, the first day of school.
“I think he made the wrong decision. We’ve never had a statewide primary the day after Labor Day for a reason,” Zakim said during an interview with Boston Public Radio Thursday. “We could have done a much better job on this, and when I’m secretary of state, we will.”
The primary is usually held seven weeks before the November general election, which would mean it should fall on Sept. 18.
Galvin was caught between two Jewish holidays — Sept. 18 marks the start of Yom Kippur and moving it to Sept. 11 would mean an election day on Rosh Hashanah.
“I suggested trying a weekend for the first time, the law would have allowed that, [and] it would have greatly increased turnout,” Zakim said. “Sept. 4 is the first day of school in many communities, nevermind folks who are coming back from their summer vacations.”
Zakim said he also would have supported a Thursday primary day on Sept. 13, a date that was pushed by the The League of Women Voters. “We’ve had Thursday primaries on more than one occasion in the past,” Zakim said, “and primaries, unfortunately, do have a typically low turnout to begin with.”
Zakim stressed that voting rights in Massachusetts continue to be a huge priority for him as a candidate. “Over and over again, we’ve been hearing about how Massachusetts has falling behind when it comes to voting rights,” he said. “We’re not one of the 17 states with same-day registration, we’re not one of the 13 states with automatic registration, that Sec. Galvin has been the one constant not supporting these, and in some cases, opposing them, and even going to court to prevent things like same-day registration, which is unacceptable anywhere, and certainly in Massachusetts.”
In January, Galvin proposed a bill to allow Massachusetts voters to both register to vote and cast a ballot on election day and publicly came out in support of same-day registration. “Allowing voters to register on Election Day is the next step in our successful effort to expand access to the ballot,” Galvin said in a statement.
Zakim said he doubts that Galvin genuinely supports the measures. “He claims he does, but he just won a court case earlier in the month that reversed an earlier decision that would have had same-day voter registration in Massachusetts, that would have maintained our 20-day deadline,” Zakim said. “I don’t think you can have it both ways.”
To hear City Councilor Josh Zakim’s full interview on Boston Public Radio, click on the audio player above.
Correction: This article has been updated to clarify that Galvin proposed legislation for same-day voter registration. Such legislation has not been passed.