Boston City Councilor, Activist Josh Zakim Announces Campaign for Secretary of State

Tuesday, November 28, 2017



Attorney, Community Activist Promises New Expansions of Voting Access, Action and Transparency in Office


BOSTON - Boston City Councilor Josh Zakim announced today he will be a candidate for Secretary of State, promising broad new expansions of voting rights, greater transparency in government and stronger oversight of businesses across the state.

Zakim, a 33-year-old attorney and community activist who has represented District 8 (Back Bay, Beacon Hill, Mission Hill, Fenway-Kenmore, West End) on the City Council since 2014, has been a leader in protecting civil rights, increasing access to voting and expanding affordable housing opportunities.

“It’s time for a new era of leadership on Beacon Hill focused on inclusion instead of exclusion – on voting rights, on access to government and on protecting us all from bad actors in big business,” said Zakim. “When our federal government attempts to roll back rights, we need a Secretary of State committed to fighting every day to protect our values and principles here in Massachusetts.

“Now is the time for bold leadership and new and innovative ideas,” he continued.

Zakim chairs the City Council’s Committee on Housing and Community Development and the Special Committee on Civil Rights. Among the legislation he has filed is a proposal to increase voting access for all eligible Bostonians.

He also authored the Boston Trust Act to improve trust and cooperation between immigrant communities and law enforcement, prohibiting the detention of residents based on immigration status. Additionally, he convened hearings to investigate serious health and safety concerns faced by Boston residents in rental housing, issuing the first City Council subpoena in decades to compel testimony from recalcitrant slumlords. The hearings ultimately led to improved landlord accountability and safer, cleaner apartments for residents.

Zakim successfully introduced an ordinance extending protections for apartment tenants whose homes are converted to condominiums or co-ops, including increased financial safeguards for elderly, disabled, and low-income tenants. And he held hearings to address the unique challenges faced by seniors in the LGBT community in finding affordable, welcoming housing in Boston.

“The Secretary of State serves the people of Massachusetts, he is their voice on some of the most vital issues in our lives – yet too few people even know the office exists or should be serving them,” Zakim said. “If you are eligible to vote, own a business, invest your money or want to know what’s happening with your tax dollars, this office matters to you – and I’m determined to make sure the people of Massachusetts have a Secretary of State fighting in their corner, every day.

Zakim said his first priority as Secretary of State is to work with cities and towns to expand access to early voting, easier voter registration and aggressively promote innovative ideas to improve voter turnout in all elections.

“As elected leaders in a democracy, we have an obligation to work to increase, not restrict, access for voters – particularly voters who for too long have been disenfranchised,” he said. “With the Trump Administration working so hard to make it difficult for more of our friends and neighbors to vote, in Massachusetts we have an opportunity and an obligation to lead on this issue – protecting and expanding perhaps the most important of all civil rights.”

Zakim’s parents instilled a strong sense of social and economic justice in him and his younger sisters, Shari and Deena. His father, Lenny, was the longtime head of the Anti-Defamation League, and lived out those values every day in his work throughout Greater Boston by building and growing coalitions amongst Massachusetts’ many diverse groups. Zakim currently resides in Downtown Boston with his wife, Grace Sullivan Zakim.

“That passion for inclusiveness is in my DNA, and I remember every single day that I am a public servant,” he said. “I will never forget where I came from and who I am here to serve. And I believe the Secretary of State’s role is a perfect way to expand the ideals my family and I – and the people who share our values – hold so dear.”



Josh Zakim to challenge secretary of state William Galvin

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

By Milton J. Valencia


City Councilor Josh Zakim said Monday that he will run against Secretary of State William Galvin in the 2018 Democratic primary, one of the most high-profile challenges to Galvin in his two-plus decades in statewide office.

Zakim, a 33-year-old attorney from a prominent Boston family, vowed to flex the powers of the office to make government more transparent, establish stronger oversight of businesses, and build off his work as a city councilor to expand voter rights and access to the polls.

“It’s time for a new era of leadership on Beacon Hill focused on inclusion instead of exclusion — on voting rights, on access to government, and on protecting us all from bad actors in big business,” said Zakim, whose District 8 council seat stretches from Beacon Hill to the Back Bay, the West End, and the Fenway. “Now is the time for bold leadership and new and innovative ideas,” he said.

Zakim would be one of Galvin's most formidable opponents since he was first elected secretary in 1994. Three years ago, Galvin breezed by Republican challenger David D'Arcangelo, a Malden City Councilor; and Green-Rainbow candidate Daniel Factor.

Galvin said in an interview Monday that he has faced challengers throughout his tenure as secretary of state, but that voters have embraced his record and returned him to office.

“I’m proud of that, and I think I’ve been the state’s top vote getter . . . because of my record,” he said. “I’m going to continue doing what I do.”

Galvin took issue, though, with Zakim’s announcing his run for office merely weeks after he was elected to another city council term, saying he hasn’t been sworn in yet and is already seeking another office.

“You can’t have it both ways,” he said.

Galvin has more than $2.6 million in his campaign coffers. Zakim is beginning his challenge with about $360,000, though he says he had already built up commitments and support.

Peter Ubertaccio, a political science professor at Stonehill College in Easton, said Galvin has not drawn high-profile challengers in the past, partly because of the low-key nature of the office.

“Voters tend not to be as aware or overly concerned with what happens in an office like the Secretary of the Commonwealth,” he said. “It takes a lot to dislodge them . . . Galvin is old-school, he’ll have the resources.”

Ubertaccio added, though, that Zakim’s campaign comes at a time when progressive Democrats have increasingly mounted challenges to the old guard, and Galvin could be vulnerable. He has been criticized for not doing enough to uphold public records laws and for supporting voter-registration deadlines rather than embracing same-day registration — the very issues Zakim has marked as his own priorities.

Those progressives “view Galvin as an obstacle, they’re not enamored by him, and those folks play a role in the nomination process,” he said. “If [Zakim] can harness that energy, he’ll have a shot.”

In addition to his role overseeing elections, the secretary of state has control over the state archives, regulation of Beacon Hill lobbyists, the public records division, the securities division, and the Massachusetts Historical Commission.

Zakim chairs the council’s Committee on Housing and Community Development, and the Special Committee on Civil Rights. He recently submitted proposals to expand voter access in Boston, for instance eliminating a city registration deadline. A state Superior Court judge recently struck down a state voter registration deadline, calling it unconstitutional, though Galvin said he would appeal.

Zakim also authored the Boston Trust Act, the city’s identification as a sanctuary city. And he took a lead in council hearings to investigate the safety of the city’s rental housing.

Zakim is the son of the late Leonard “Lenny” Zakim, the well-known community advocate, longtime head of the Anti-Defamation League, and the namesake of the Zakim bridge that spans the Charles River. Josh Zakim said his parents’ “passion for inclusiveness is in my DNA.”

He said his priorities as secretary of state would be to expand access to early voting, facilitate voter registration, and promote new ways to increase voter turnout, while also upholding public records laws and investigating securities fraud.

“I just think right now . . . we’re in a place right now where voting rights are under attack across the country, including from the White House,” he said. “Here in Massachusetts, we should be doing everything we can to open up that process and make it easier.”

He said he recognizes Galvin’s hold over the position. But, he added, “It is time, I think, for new ideas and bold action in that office. . . . The person in this office needs to be looking forward.”

 Credit: Angela Rowlings

Credit: Angela Rowlings

City councilor takes on William Galvin

Fellow Dem Zakim challenges six-term Secretary of State

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

By Matt Stout


Boston city councilor Josh Zakim is launching a challenge to fellow Democrat and longtime Secretary of State William F. Galvin, setting up a potentially tense — and rare — primary for the well-funded Beacon Hill fixture.

Zakim repeatedly framed his first statewide campaign as a pitch to bring a fresh vision and a more “inclusive environment” to the Secretary of State’s office, where Galvin has faced just one Democratic challenger since he first won the post in 1994.

“We need to make sure that vulnerable people across the state are protected and the office is led by someone who is willing to take those steps,” Zakim said in a Herald interview, pointing to a recent Superior Court decision overturning the law that forbids people from voting unless they registered 20 days before the election. Galvin’s office is appealing.

“Instead of saying, ‘That’s something we need to fix right away,’ the incumbent is fighting that decision in court right now,” Zakim said. “That’s something you would expect from an official in Alabama, not in Massachusetts.”

The 33-year-old Back Bay resident, who earlier this month was elected to his third two-year term on the council, could provide Galvin’s most serious challenge. He is the son of Jewish-American religious and civil rights leader Leonard P. Zakim. Galvin has won re-election five times, all by at least 32 points, and in 2006, easily topped his lone primary challenger — voting rights attorney John Bonifaz — by winning 83 percent of the vote.

Galvin, who already has said he’s running for re-election, responded fiercely to Zakim’s entrance, saying he finds it “remarkable” his announcement comes just weeks after voters put him back on the council. He also defended his decision to appeal the ruling, saying it pushes for “no restrictions” on voting, adding, “We don’t think the Constitution says that.”

“I’m very proud of my record,” Galvin said, adding that despite a dearth of primary challenges, he’s faced an opponent in the general election every time. “I’m not presumptuous to believe that I should rest on my laurels.”

Galvin also remains one of the best-funded politicians in the state. He had $2.5 million on hand as of mid-November, compared to Zakim, who had $370,196. “When people give me money, I tell them what I’m running for,” Galvin said.

Longtime Democratic operative Lou DiNatale, who’s not connected to either campaign, said Zakim’s announcement could make the race about “millennials taking their place in the elective field.”

“I think the Democratic party establishment is running to catch up with the electorate,” DiNatale said. “And they would rather absorb this than fight with it. I don’t see Democrats rallying around 30-year incumbents.”


Boston Councilor Zakim running for Secretary of State


Tuesday, November 28, 2017

By Matt Murphy


The longest serving statewide elected official in Massachusetts will have a challenger for re-election in 2018, from within his own party.

Boston City Councilor Josh Zakim plans to announce Tuesday that he will challenge Secretary of State William Galvin for the Democratic nomination next year to be the state's chief elections officer, securities industry regulator and public records law enforcer.

Zakim, a 33-year-old whose family name adorns the bridge serving as a gateway to Boston from the north, is looking to parlay his four-plus years on the city council into a campaign, that if successful, would culminate in a major upset of party stalwart who has coasted to re-election five times since he first won the office in 1994.

"Twenty-four years is a long time and I think we need to be looking at new ways of doing things," Zakim said in a interview.

Zakim, a Back Bay resident and attorney, was first elected to the city council in 2013 and won a third term this month, enabling him to seek the secretary of state's office without putting his council seat on the line.

Galvin has faced a Democratic challenger only once since winning the secretary of state's office in 1994. Constitutional law and voting rights attorney John Bonifaz ran for the party nomination in 2006. Galvin easily held off Bonifaz, capturing over 68 percent of the primary vote to Bonifaz's 14 percent.

Zakim supports automatic voter registration and same-day voter registration, criticizing Galvin's office for appealing a Superior Court ruling this summer that struck down a state law requiring voters to be registered at least 20 days prior to an election in order to participate.

"That's the sort of behavior I would expect from elected officials in Alabama or someplace like that, not here in Massachusetts," Zakim said.

Galvin's office said at the time that the judge's ruling would lead to "administrative chaos." Zakim said that Galvin should have recognized the problem and worked to make it easier for people to vote.

"At a time when voting rights are under attack across the country, being led out of the White House and the party controlling Congress, we need to not just be making the status quo. We need to be talking about how do we lead in Massachusetts," Zakim said.

In addition to elections, the secretary of state's office services as the state's chief securities regulator, oversees public records and lobbyists, and runs the corporations division, the historical commission, and the Massachusetts Archives.

Zakim said that, if elected, he would ensure that anyone seeking public records would receive a prompt response from his office "in an affordable way" and make sure that securities investors are treated fairly.

"There's a lot this office can and should be doing, and I think it's time that we look at ways to be bolder," Zakim said.

Galvin, 67, recently made known his intentions to seek a seventh term in 2018, and through the middle of November he had $663,982 in his campaign account. He told the News Service that ensuring an accurate 2020 Census count is a priority, mentioning the importance of counting all immigrants, college students and senior citizens.

In his recent re-election efforts, Galvin has run largely under-the-radar campaigns, eschewing debates with his Republican challengers and quietly sliding back into office with ease.

"I think the voters deserve to have public debates. They deserve to hear from the incumbent. I would look forward to public debates and forums," said Zakim, who suggested he could break through the noise in a cycle that will features races for governor and U.S. Senate with a message of "inclusiveness."

He said, "It's not about who has the most money in the bank. We are going to compete in every corner of the state and I think we have a message that resonates around, first, making sure everyone who wants to and is eligible is able to participate in our democracy." Zakim has $370,196 in his city council campaign account.

A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and Northeastern University School of Law, he began his career at Greater Boston Legal Services representing families facing foreclosure.

On the city council representing District 8, Zakim chairs the Committee on Housing and Community Development and the special Committee on Civil Rights, which he has used to push for voting access changes that would make it easier to register voters during the course of their basic interactions with the city, such as applying for a library card.

Zakim lives in the Back Bay with his wife Grace Sullivan Zakim.


A Fellow Democrat says It's Time for Secretary William Galvin to Go

City Councilor Josh Zakim, who compares Massachusetts' voting policy to Alabama's, will run against Galvin next year.


Tuesday, September 28, 2017

By Spencer Buell


For more than 20 years, William Galvin has overseen Massachusetts’ elections, lobbyists, and public records. And now Boston City Councilor Josh Zakim says his time is up.

The 33-year-old Democrat will announce Tuesday his plans to run against Galvin, 67, who is also a Democrat, and was first elected to the office in 1994.

“Twenty-four years is a long time and I think we need to be looking at new ways of doing things,” Zakim told the State House News Service.

Zakim, whose family lends its name to the Zakim Bridge, has just won re-election to his seat on Boston’s City Council after his first term. He serves on the Committee on Housing and Community Development and the special Committee on Civil Rights.

His platform includes an expansion of access to the vote via automatic and same-day voter registration. He has criticized Galvin for a requirement that voters be registered 20 days prior to an election, comparing that to policy one might find “in Alabama or someplace like that.”

He is pushing the message that Galvin has not been tough enough with Washington in the Trump era, and told the Salem News he thinks the office needs someone as confrontational as Maura Healey has been from the Attorney General’s office.

Zakim is not the only one running. Swampscott’s Brian Felder filed paperwork in July.

It’s been a decade since a Democrat has tried to take Galvin’s seat. Attorney John Bonifaz ran in 2006 but lost to Galvin, who claimed 68 percent of the vote.


Galvin draws Democratic challengers


Tuesday, November 28, 2017

By Christian M. Wade


Secretary of State William Galvin, who is the longest-serving official elected statewide, has drawn challengers from his own party for the first time in years.

Josh Zakim, a Boston city councilor, filed paperwork Monday signaling his plan to run against Galvin in next year’s Democratic primary, becoming the second contender to challenge Galvin’s decades-long hold on the office. Brian Felder of Swampscott filed paperwork in July to run for the office.

Zakim, a lawyer who has served on the City Council since 2014, has a background in community activism. He says Galvin hasn’t been vocal enough in opposing the policies and actions of Republican President Donald Trump and the GOP-controlled Congress.

“We need a new era of leadership on Beacon Hill focused on inclusion instead of exclusion -– on voting rights, on access to government and on protecting us all from bad actors in big business," Zakim, 33, said in an interview. "There is a lot more that can be done with that office."

He cites Attorney General Maura Healey, a Democrat who has taken on the Trump administration over immigration, gun control and consumer protection.

"If we look at what some of the other constitutional officers are doing, they're using the full powers of their offices to move Massachusetts forward and defend people's rights," he said. "Right now, we need leaders who are going to take action."

Zakim said he wants to wants to work with cities and towns to expand access to early voting and registration. He took a shot at Galvin for not advocating strongly enough for automatic voter registration and other initiatives aimed at improving election turnout.

"This is Massachusetts, not Alabama," he said. "We should be doing everything we can to reduce barriers to voting and make sure that every eligible voter is able to register and participate in the elections."

Zakim's father, Leonard, was the longtime head of the New England chapter of the Anti-Defamation League who died of cancer in 1999. Boston's Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge was named in his honor.

The secretary of state oversees the state archives, Historical Commission, the lobbyist division, and the state’s public records. The office also oversees the securities division, which has the power to investigate fraud

The secretary is elected for a four-year term at a salary of $150,400 per year, with benefits.

Galvin, 67, of Brighton, first won the office in 1994 and has drawn only one Democratic challenger since — in 2006, when he beat John Bonifaz with 82 percent of the vote.

In the 2014 elections, he handily won with 67 percent of the vote over Republican David D'Arcangelo, a city councilor in Malden, and Green-Rainbow Party candidate Daniel Factor.

He recently filed paperwork to seek a seventh term. A spokesperson for his campaign didn't respond to a request for comment.

To be sure, Zakim also has a lot of catching up to do in the money race. Galvin has nearly $664,000 in his campaign account, according to disclosures filed with the Office of Campaign and Political Finance.


Longtime Massachusetts elections overseer Bill Galvin to face 2018 challenge from Boston City Councilor Josh Zakim


Tuesday, November 28, 2017

By Gintautas Dumcius


Weeks after voters sent him back to the Boston City Council for a two-year term, Josh Zakim is gearing up for a 2018 campaign against Bill Galvin, the longtime Massachusetts secretary of state and a fellow Democrat.

Galvin, a powerful figure inside the State House, was first elected to the statewide job in 1994. He plans to run for a seventh term, he recently told the State House News Service, an independent wire covering Beacon Hill.

As secretary of state, Galvin wears multiple hats: He's the state's overseer of elections, public records, lobbyists, a corporations repository, and the Massachusetts Archives. He's also the chief securities regulator, the state liaison with the US Census Bureau and the chairman of the Massachusetts Historical Commission.

A Brighton resident, Galvin won re-election in 2014 with 67 percent of the vote. He didn't face a challenger in the Democratic primary, and went on to beat Republican David D'Arcangelo, who now works for Gov. Charlie Baker as director of the Massachusetts on Disability, in the general election.

"Last time I was the state's top vote getter in both the primary and the [general] election," Galvin, 67, said. "I'm proud of my record, I intend to run on my record."

In 2014, Galvin pulled in 1.39 million votes, receiving more votes than US Sen. Ed Markey, Gov. Baker, Attorney General Maura Healey and other candidates on the statewide ballot.

But Zakim, 33, says he's running for the secretary of state's office in order to expand voting rights and bring additional transparency to state government.

"I think we need some new ideas and new leadership in that office to get it done," Zakim told MassLive.

On the City Council, Zakim represents Back Bay, Beacon Hill, Mission Hill, Fenway, Kenmore Square and the West End. He lives in downtown Boston with his wife, Grace Sullivan Zakim.

His late father, Lenny, worked as the head of the Anti-Defamation League in New England, and state officials later named the Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge, next to TD Garden, in his honor.

Josh Zakim, first elected to the Boston City Council in 2013, chairs its Committee on Housing and Community Development and the Special Committee on Civil Rights.

"I do find it interesting that somebody who gets elected in one month, at the same time, before even taking the oath of office, is running for another office," Galvin told MassLive.

Zakim gets sworn in for another term in January 2018.

"He told people in that district he's running for re-election to a two year term," Galvin said. "But that was earlier this month....I just find it curious." 

Zakim has worked as an attorney at Greater Boston Legal Services and the law firm Mintz Levin before the election.  

Zakim's housing committee has held hearings on health and public safety concerns in rental housing and subpoenaed a controversial landlord.

Zakim pointed to a recent ordinance he filed requiring the Boston Public Library to include voter registration information when residents apply for a library card. The ordinance would also call for Boston public high schools to provide time off from school for eligible students to vote on election day, and for the Boston Transportation Department to automatically register applicants for a residential parking permit to vote.

"I think it's important at this time in our country we have a leader in that office who will take action and be open to new ideas," Zakim said.


Josh Zakim Statement on State Primary Date


Tuesday, January 9, 2018



BOSTON -- Josh Zakim, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for Secretary of State of the Commonwealth, released the following statement today in response to Secretary Bill Galvin's decision to hold the state primary on Tuesday, September 4, the day after Labor Day.

"It is outrageous and unprecedented to schedule a statewide primary for the day after Labor Day, when people are just returning from their summer vacations and haven't had time to focus on the upcoming election. And scheduling an early voting period during the last week of August is equally ridiculous.

"This is a brazen example of the Secretary trying to depress voter turnout. We should be making it easier and more convenient for people to vote, not putting up additional barriers. There are any number of dates that he could have selected that would have made it easier for working people and young people to get to the polls despite busy work and school schedules. I submitted testimony to the Secretary last week recommending weekend voting.

"Never before has the primary been held the day after Labor Day - not in the 24 years the Secretary has been in office, and not in the 124 years that Labor Day has been a federal holiday.

"I'm running for Secretary of the Commonwealth to make government more accessible to the people it serves. Scheduling this vote the day after Labor Day achieves the exact opposite."



 Credit: Sam Doran/SHNS

Credit: Sam Doran/SHNS

Blowback Over Setting of Day-After-Labor Day Primary

January 9, 2018

State House News Service

By Colin A. Young and Matt Murphy


Scheduling the statewide primary elections for the day after Labor Day is "a brazen example" of Secretary of State William Galvin "trying to depress voter turnout," the secretary's Democratic challenger said Tuesday.

Josh Zakim, the Boston city councilor challenging Galvin for the Democratic nomination as secretary of state, lashed out at Galvin after the secretary announced Tuesday that he's scheduled the primaries for Sept. 4 after navigating a calendar full of religious holidays and other constraints.

The date of the state primary is usually settled without much discussion or public attention, and would have been held on Sept. 18 if not for a conflict with a Jewish holiday. Because of the conflict, this year Galvin was required by law to schedule the primary within seven days of the second Tuesday of September, or Sept. 11, leaving the secretary a window from Sept. 4 until Sept. 18 to hold the election.

Galvin's decision -- to hold the primaries on the day after Labor Day -- and his request that the Legislature approve an expansion of the state's early voting provisions to allow five days of early voting before the primaries did not sit well with Zakim. The city councilor claimed the primary has never been held the day after Labor Day in the 124 years it's been a federal holiday.

"It is outrageous and unprecedented to schedule a statewide primary for the day after Labor Day, when people are just returning from their summer vacations and haven't had time to focus on the upcoming election. And scheduling an early voting period during the last week of August is equally ridiculous," Zakim said in a statement. "This is a brazen example of the Secretary trying to depress voter turnout."

In a short interview on City Hall Plaza on Tuesday, Zakim said that while he suggested holding the primaries the weekend of Sept. 15-16, he also agreed with the League of Women Voters, which proposed the primaries be held later in the month than the 4th.

Galvin's office said his determination came after consultation with House Speaker Robert DeLeo and Acting Senate President Harriette Chandler, and that it comes with a request that the Legislature pay for cities and towns to hold five days of voting before the Sept. 4 primaries. The secretary of state has in the past been resistant to scheduling elections the day after the holiday due to the overtime costs associated with hiring poll workers to set up stations over the weekend.

"Given the interest we are already seeing in the primaries and the successful implementation of early voting in the 2016 State Election, I believe offering early voting for the State Primaries would provide a greater opportunity for voter participation," Galvin said in a statement Tuesday morning.

Chandler said in a statement Tuesday that Galvin's choice of Sept. 4 "is the best consensus option" and that Galvin's proposed five days of early voting "will help provide ample opportunities for voters to make their voices heard."

The secretary's request for an expansion of early voting -- state law already allows for early voting ahead of November state elections -- comes one day after Auditor Suzanne Bump pegged the total unfunded early voting cost to municipalities for the 2016 general election at $1,063,978.14 and asked that the Legislature make municipalities whole in a supplemental budget.

Sen. Anne Gobi and Rep. John Mahoney, the co-chairs of the Election Laws Committee, could not be reached for comment Tuesday on the early voting proposal.

Galvin is proposing to have an early voting period "begin on Monday, August 27, 2018 and end on Friday, August 31, 2018," according to a copy of proposed legislation provided by his office. The legislation calls for early voting to be "conducted during the usual business hours of each city or town clerk" and would require each city or town to identify a location for early voting by Aug. 10.

Zakim said would support an expansion of early voting before the primary as long as the holiday weekend doesn't count toward the five-day window.

"I'm supportive of early voting. I'd be interested to see what five days he's planning on, because if that also includes Labor Day weekend I don't know what positive impact that's going to have on turnout," Zakim said before seeing Galvin's specific proposal.

Setting a date for the state primary this year became more of an issue than normal -- and became an issue in the secretary of state primary contest -- because the target date for the primary is Tuesday, Sept. 18, but that date marks the beginning of the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur. One week earlier, Tuesday, Sept. 11, conflicts with the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah.

A spokesman for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Setti Warren said the former Newton mayor's campaign was still digesting the news Tuesday afternoon. Democrat Jay Gonzalez's gubernatorial campaign manager Kevin Ready said it will be incumbent on campaigns to "make sure voters are thinking about the election even while they're enjoying the holiday weekend."

Before making his decision, Galvin held a two-week public comment period, including a public hearing at which one person showed up to testify, and received comments from about 50 people or organizations by email, his office said.


Why doesn't Massachusetts hold its state primaries earlier?

The state has struggled in recent years to find a day in September that works for everyone.


Wednesday, January 10, 2018

By Nik DeCosta-Klipa


Massachusetts has a northern neighbor well known for its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. But when it comes to local primary elections, the Bay State is the one that’s notably unique.

After a good deal of debate, Secretary of State William Galvin announced Tuesday that the state’s 2018 midterm primaries would be held Sept. 4. While somewhat earlier than usual for Massachusetts voters, it’s still the third-latest state primary date in the country, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Additionally, Massachusetts is the only state in the country without a fixed date for its local primaries. And finding a day that works under the current rules turns out to be a real pain.

Massachusetts state law calls for the primary to be held on the seventh Tuesday before the general election, which this year would have been Sept. 18. But that date is also the beginning of the Jewish holiday Yom Kippur. Additionally, Sept. 11 coincides with another Jewish holiday, Rosh Hashanah.

Galvin couldn’t move the date to the following week because of a federal law requiring absentee ballots be available to military members 45 days before the general election. So he choose to move the primary up two weeks to Sept. 4, the day after Labor Day, which generated its own respective backlash.

In 2016, the state primaries were held on a Thursday due to concerns holding it the Tuesday after Labor Day would be expensive for towns and could suppress turnout. In 2018, the Thursday after Labor Day coincides with the first day of school for some districts, including Boston, so Galvin decided the primaries would have to be Tuesday.

In an interview with, Galvin admitted the date isn’t ideal, but said he didn’t have “many options” under the current law.

But what about upending the Massachusetts primary schedule completely?

Boston City Councilor Josh Zakim, who is challenging Galvin in the Democratic primary for secretary of state, told that he doesn’t see many benefits of holding the primary in September.

“You only need to look at the embarrassingly low turnout numbers for the state primary over the last several decades to recognize there is a problem, that the status quo isn’t working, and that a change should be considered,” Zakim said.

The Massachusetts primary used to have more company in September, according to Wendy Underhill, the director of elections at the NCSL. However, Underhill said that many states moved up their primary dates after Congress passed the aforementioned 45-day absentee ballot requirement in 2009.

Now, according to the NCSL website, Massachusetts is one of just five states that holds a September primary. Fourteen states hold their primaries in August, 17 hold theirs in June, and 11 hold theirs in May. Texas holds claim to the earliest 2018 midterm primary date: March 6. Underhill noted that no states hold primaries in July and that doing so is a “really bad idea” since it’s a popular vacation month.

A Massachusetts Senate bill introduced last year proposed changing the state’s primaries to the third Tuesday in May. According to Debra O’Malley, a spokeswoman for Galvin’s office, legislation to move the primary to an earlier month has been filed for each of the last several years, but never passed.

Galvin isn’t necessarily opposed to changing the primary, O’Malley told

“We are open to changing the date permanently, if that is what the Legislature chooses,” she said, noting that such a change would set off a cascade of procedural deadlines and election laws that would also have to be changed.

Zakim says that the September primary creates an “unnecessarily long primary season” and do not give voters enough time to learn about the party nominees before the general election. While he generally supports moving the primary, the 34-year-old says he would like to see the subject studied more thoroughly to figure out the “best time for the most people to participate.”

“It may be in May, but I want to see the rationale,” he said.

Zakim added that, regardless of the date of the primary, he wants to see weekend voting and expanded early voting studied. Massachusetts held its first early voting season for a general election in 2016 and saw slightly higher turnout than previous presidential years. Galvin proposed Tuesday that it be expanded this year to include a five-day early voting period before the Sept. 4 primary.

Ironically, Massachusetts’s relatively late primary date may currently work out in the best interest of challengers, like Zakim.

“Some might argue that shortening the primary season advantages incumbents,” Underhill said. “Challengers don’t have as much time to increase their name exposure.”

And in a state as heavily Democratic as Massachusetts, primaries can prove more decisive than the general election, which are often less competitive. Ultimately, Underhill says the most important consideration is holding a primary at a time that is convenient for voters and that many people don’t “wake up” to election season, especially for smaller races, until the fall.

“Whenever the primary is, candidates will adjust their scheduling and their resources to work around it,” she said.

 Credit: Alexandra Gomes

Credit: Alexandra Gomes


January 11, 2018

By Alexandra Gomes


After over 20 years in office, Secretary of State William Galvin will be challenged by Josh Zakim in the 2018 Democratic primary.

Zakim met with the Foxboro Democratic Town Committee on Monday evening to share his platform and answer questions.

The main focus of his campaign is voting access and voter rights, a cause he says the Secretary of State has a lot influence over as the chief elections officer.

“We need someone in that role who is going to be an advocate and a champion for voting rights and voting access,” he said. “This is the catalyst for why I’m running.”

Zakim said voter turnout has been low at the local and state level, even during presidential elections. He believes changes to our voter registration system, such as same-day registration or automatic registration, would encourage more citizens to vote.

“We are Massachusetts, the birthplace of American democracy,” he said. “We should not be toward the end of pack in measures of voter access. There is just no reason for that.”

The Secretary of State’s office has a lot of potential to enact change, he said, and in recent years has not served as a leader on voting rights.

“That’s sometimes going to happen when someone has been in that role for 25 years,” he said. “It’s time for a change. It’s time for new ideas in there.”

An attorney from Boston, Zakim began his career in 2010 at the Greater Boston Legal Services where he represented families who were facing foreclosure. During his time there he saw the change that can happen when government, local groups and citizens worked together, he said, a lesson that would later lead him to seek public office.

Currently, Zakim is serving his third term on Boston’s city council and is chair of the council’s Committee on Civil Rights and Committee on Consumer Affairs, Small Business and Regulations.

He is also the author of the Boston Trust Act, legislation that prohibits the police from holding people based on their immigration status. He has also filed legislation on voting access and rights at the city level. In late January, he is refilling legislation for automatic voter registration that would allow citizens to register to vote when they interact with city agencies, like getting a parking sticker or a library card.

Zakim is son of the late Lenny Zakim, the well-known Jewish-American religious and civil rights leader memorialized by naming Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge in his honor. Josh Zakim works to keep his father’s legacy alive by serving on the board of the Lenny Zakim Fund, which provides grants to local grassroots organizations seeking to address social issues such as youth violence, adult literacy and job training.

In addition to overseeing the Elections Division, the Secretary of State is in charge of Public Records Division, Corporations Division, Massachusetts Archives, Massachusetts Historical Commission, Securities Division and State Records Center.

 Credit: Terry Cowgill/Berkshire Edge

Credit: Terry Cowgill/Berkshire Edge

By: Terry Cowgill


Great Barrington — Not once did Josh Zakim use the phrase “social justice” to describe his motivation for running for secretary of state, but it clearly is a factor in his thinking.

The Boston city councilor, a 33-year-old who is running to unseat fellow Democrat and longtime secretary Bill Galvin, came to a meeting of the Great Barrington Democratic Town Committee Saturday morning at the Claire Teague Senior Center and told the couple of dozen committee members and onlookers that his inspiration to run came from the time he spent chairing the city council’s Civil Rights Committee.

“I introduced the Boston Trust Act, which is the bill that made Boston what the president would call an ‘outlaw sanctuary city,'” Zakim said. “We’ve been threatened with arrest most recently from the Justice Department and from ICE, and I continue to be incredibly proud of that work.”

As Zakim surely knew, the topic resonates in Great Barrington, which joined Pittsfield and North Adams in Berkshire County in passing its own version of the trust act last year.

But as much as Zakim cares about the immigrant community, his focus in running seems to be on voter rights, which makes sense because the secretary of state is also the chief elections officer in Massachusetts.

“But as we kept doing this work, I kept hearing from people and I was actually surprised to hear that, despite our progressive reputation and despite the fact that we think we’re a beacon of good government and democracy in this country–and in many ways we are–it’s not as easy to vote in Massachusetts as it should be.”

Zakim listed what he called “unreasonable barriers” to voting. It is not easy to register and not easy to get to the polls on election day. So the Civil Rights Committee held hearings and decided to work to make registration and voting easier in Boston.

 Josh Zakim ponders a question from a Great Barrington Democratic Town Committee member. Photo: Terry Cowgill

Josh Zakim ponders a question from a Great Barrington Democratic Town Committee member. Photo: Terry Cowgill

After that hearing, Zakim introduced a bill that would create what he called “almost an automatic voter registration in Boston,” so that when, for example, a resident applies for a residential parking permit, gets a library card, registers for school or otherwise sign up for city services, “you are registered for the opportunity to vote.” Zakim also favors same-day registration.

“It’s low-cost, low-impact and it will dramatically increase our voter registration because turnout in city and state elections is pretty low as it is,” Zakim explained. “So we need to do more on that–and there are huge segments of our population that feel disenfranchised and I think rightfully so.”

Zakim has also blasted Galvin’s office for appealing a Superior Court ruling last summer that struck down a state law requiring voters to be registered at least 20 days prior to an election in order to participate in it.

“That’s the sort of behavior I would expect from elected officials in Alabama or someplace like that, not here in Massachusetts,” Zakim told WBUR last year.

He also faulted Galvin for scheduling party primaries this year on Tuesday, Sept. 4, the day after Labor Day, which Zakim has said is a very busy day that clearly discourages voter participation.

Zakim also pointed out that the secretary of state is the chief securities regulator for Massachusetts. That portion of the secretary’s job is roughly the state equivalent of the federal Securities and Exchange Commission.

“I don’t know about all of you, but I do not expect Donald Trump’s SEC or FBI to be helping small investors or consumers if they’re taken in a stock scam,” Zakim said with more than a hint of sarcasm.

Zakim was effusive in his praise of Maura Healey, whom he described as “a great attorney general” and an office holder who has the authority to prosecute securities fraud and related crimes. But he added that Massachusetts also needs a secretary of state who uses his authority to impose “administrative sanctions, fines … and order the repayment of money that’s been falsely taken.”

After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania and Northeastern University School of Law, Zakim says on his website that he “fought for economic justice” and “began his career at Greater Boston Legal Services where he represented working families who were facing the loss of their homes to foreclosure at the hands of predatory banks and lenders.”

Furthermore, the secretary is supervisor of the state’s public records, which Zakim said are not easily accessible enough and that “there’s no reason most of these public records shouldn’t be searchable online.”

“We don’t need someone who is continually going to court to prevent the release of public records and that’s what has been happening far too often,” Zakim said of Galvin.

Indeed, Galvin’s reluctance to release information concerning public officials led to a scathing editorial two years ago in the Patriot Ledger of Quincy calling for the state to put the attorney general’s office in charge of public records. The paper called one of his information refusals a “galling act of obstructionism” and recommended voters “terminate Galvin’s employment” in the next election.

Lastly, Zakim talked about accessibility, an issue he obviously thinks Galvin, who was first elected secretary in 1994, is vulnerable on.

“I talk about literally and figuratively opening up the office, being out across the commonwealth–not just on Beacon Hill–answering phone calls and emails,” Zakim said.

But Zakim kept returning to the issue of voting, which he characterized as “our most fundamental right.” He acknowledged that some of his ideas will require legislation and that the path will not always be easy but it does require leadership, something he clearly thinks has been lacking from Galvin’s office.

“A statewide elections office needs to be pushing for these things and needs to be pushing for resources for city and town clerks,” Zakim insisted. “We need early voting, which we tried last year in the presidential election, but should be in every election. And we need to make it easier for people to vote by mail.”

Committee member Fred Clark noted that, “First of all, you get a lot of points for just showing up.” Clark noted that the Boston area, inside the I-495 beltway, comprises some 70 percent of the state’s lawmakers and population, so Zakim’s trip to the Berkshires is commendable.

Clark asked what could be done to help town clerks provide the necessary services for elections. Zakim said it’s not only a matter of budgetary support from the secretary’s office but also in advocating for change with lawmakers on Beacon Hill.

It may be that the legislature is sort of okay with the way things are,” Zakim said. “but they need to be pushed on these things.”

In response to another question about ease of voting, Zakim said, “For most of us in this room, getting to the polls on election day is probably not a huge struggle. But for a lot of people, particularly if you’re working more than one job, or you’re caring for a parent or grandparent–whatever it is–it’s not that easy.”

Galvin’s office is not used to a vigorous challenge from another Democrat–or even from a Republican, for that matter. Since his election in 1994, Galvin, 67, has been primaried only once–in 2006 by attorney John Bonifaz, whom Galvin trounced 87 percent to 17 percent.

In December, Galvin branded Zakim “sneaky” in the way he went about organizing his candidacy and suggested Zakim was trying to increase his name recognition for a future race.

“The Boston City Council is sort of an incubator,” Galvin said of Zakim, according to the Boston Herald. “When you get paid that much to do so little, I guess you have a lot of time on your hands.”

Notwithstanding his sarcasm, Galvin is clearly concerned, so the race bears watching. And the fact that Zakim was willing to get up at 6 a.m. on a Saturday and drive out to the hinterlands from the Back Bay suggests he knows it’s best not to ignore the Berkshires.

Stay tuned.

zakim headshot.png

Zakim: Vote for Me; Secretary of State Galvin Not Fulfilling His Responsibilities


Thursday, January 25, 2018

By: Josh Zakim


This year, we have an opportunity to move forward on issues of access and accountability. We need to make sure that everyone across the Commonwealth will have their voices heard in the halls of power. We can, and must, embrace bold new ideas and innovative leadership to make Massachusetts the beacon of democracy that we should be.

There are obstacles to voting – both registration and access to the polls – that are surmountable, but have thus far been ignored. Public records remain difficult to view, despite technological advances that should make them available with the click of a mouse. Far too many people have fallen prey to investment scams, which need better oversight and policing.

Each of these falls under the purview of the Secretary of State. Bill Galvin, our current secretary who has served in the office for 24 years, is not fulfilling his responsibilities. After a quarter of a century, it is time for new and bold leadership.

Just last week, for example, Galvin scheduled this year’s state primary for the day after Labor Day. Aside from the fact that many people will just be getting back from vacation and not focusing on electoral politics, it is also the first day of school in many cities and towns. The primary hasn’t been scheduled on this day in the 124 years Labor Day has been recognized as a federal holiday for a reason. Why should it change this year? The only plausible explanation is to keep turnout low, a cynical maneuver that generally benefits the incumbent and the status quo.

But the status quo isn’t good enough, and hasn’t been for a long time. During Galvin’s tenure, primary voting turnout has dropped 30 percent from its peak in 2002 – resulting in nearly 300,000 fewer people going to the polls. That’s 300,000 fewer people having their voices heard.

That’s why the cornerstone of my campaign is increasing access to government for all Massachusetts residents. This means ensuring that every eligible person is able to register to vote and get to the polls. This means making sure that if you want to see any public record, you can do so quickly and, if there are costs associated with it, affordably. This means if you have a grievance or a question or an idea, there is someone who will pick up the phone or answer the email.

This means you will have a government that is responsive to you.

In my role as a Boston City Councilor, I chair the Civil Rights Committee, and have prioritized initiatives protecting immigrant communities, making rental housing safe and obtainable for all people, and remaining open and accessible to my constituents.

My parents instilled a strong sense of social and economic justice in my younger sisters and me. My dad, Lenny, was the longtime head of the Anti-Defamation League and lived out those values every day of his life. I have also tried to uphold those values, and that began long before I was an elected official or a candidate for higher office. That passion for inclusiveness is in my DNA.

I am running for Secretary of State to make Massachusetts government more accessible for you, your family, your neighbors and your community. I am running to give you the government you deserve.


Council President Campbell Endorses Zakim for Secretary of State


Monday, January 29, 2018



BOSTON -- Boston City Council President Andrea Campbell today announced that she is endorsing Josh Zakim in his campaign for the Democratic nomination for Secretary of State.

“Josh is an energetic, passionate and tireless advocate,” Campbell said. “The fresh ideas he has brought to the Council, particularly around civil rights, will translate perfectly to the Secretary’s office.”

Campbell referenced Zakim’s efforts to increase access to voting, strengthen voting rights, make open records more accessible and to expand affordable housing opportunities.

“Josh comes from a family of activists fully committed to social and economic justice, and his work on the Council, such as his leadership in passing Boston’s Trust Act, perfectly illustrates that,” Campbell continued. “We need to make it easier, and more exciting, for residents to engage with government, and I am confident Josh will do that.”

Campbell was first elected to the Council in 2015 from District 4, representing Dorchester, Mattapan, Jamaica Plain and Roslindale. She was elected Council President earlier this month.

 “Andrea is a tremendous colleague, and winning her endorsement is truly meaningful,” Zakim said. “I see on a daily basis how hard she works for her constituents and for the City as a whole.”

Zakim, who was elected to the City Council in 2013, has made increasing the public’s access to government the cornerstone of his campaign.

“The Secretary of State’s office is vital to every single person in Massachusetts, even if they don’t realize it,” he said. “From eligible voters to business owners to investors to residents who simply want to know what is happening with their tax dollars, this is their office, and I will be fighting in their corner every day.”



City Councilor Matt O'Malley Endorses Josh Zakim for Secretary of State


Monday, February 12, 2018



Boston -- Boston City Councilor Matt O’Malley today announced that he is endorsing Josh Zakim in his campaign for the Democratic nomination for Secretary of State.

“Josh has been a source of smart, innovative ideas on the City Council, and he will bring that same energy, passion and intellect to the Secretary of State’s office,” O’Malley said. “Voting rights are under attack at the federal level, and we need progressive leadership in this office more than ever. That’s what Josh will bring to the job.”

O’Malley referenced Zakim’s efforts on the City Council to strengthen voting rights and increase access to the polls, as well as make open records more accessible and expand affordable housing opportunities.

“Josh’s commitment to public service is rooted in his DNA,” O’Malley continued. “Thanks to his family, he has fought for social and economic justice his entire life. And the Secretary of State has the ability to help every single person in Massachusetts. Josh is absolutely the right fit.”

O’Malley won a special election to the Council in 2010 to represent District 6 (West Roxbury, Jamaica Plain, Roslindale and Mission Hill), and has since been re-elected four times. He chairs the Council’s Environment and Parks Committee, where he authored the recently-passed plastic bag ban.

“I am thrilled and honored to have Matt’s endorsement and support,” Zakim said. “I have worked with Matt on many matters, and have always come away impressed and inspired by his tireless commitment to progressive causes.”

Zakim, who was elected to the City Council in 2013, has made increasing the public’s access to government the cornerstone of his campaign.

“The Secretary of State’s office is vital to every single person in Massachusetts, even if they don’t realize it,” he said. “From eligible voters to business owners to investors to residents who simply want to know what is happening with their tax dollars, this is their office, and I will be fighting in their corner every day.”



Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera Endorses Josh Zakim for Secretary of State



Friday, February 16, 2018



Boston -- Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera, one of the state Democratic party’s rising stars, today announced that he is endorsing Josh Zakim in his campaign for the Democratic nomination for Secretary of State.

“Josh is speaking to the issues that are important to the people of Lawrence,” Rivera said. “His campaign is about inclusion and making government more open. Voting rights, access to the polls – this is what I hear when I travel from neighborhood to neighborhood in Lawrence.”

Making government more accessible is the cornerstone of Zakim’s campaign. His proposals have included allowing residents to register to vote on Election Day, further expanding early voting and hosting statewide elections on weekends.

“Lawrence wants and needs a tireless and innovative thinker like Josh in the Secretary of State’s office,” Rivera said. “People may not realize just how important this job is to their daily lives, but the Secretary of State can help every person in Massachusetts. Whether it is about protecting and expanding civil rights like voting, or helping businesses get registered, or protecting seniors from financial scams or ensuring people have easy and affordable access to their public records, Josh will get it done for them.”

A former Lawrence City Councilor, Rivera was elected mayor in 2013, and since has led Lawrence to an impressive economic turnaround with improved schools, sustained development and a declining unemployment rate.

“Dan Rivera is one of the young, outstanding mayors we have across the Commonwealth, and I’m honored to have his support,” Zakim said. “The city is re-emerging as a leader and economic force in the Merrimack Valley, and that can be directly traced to him. His ideas and energy have helped lift Lawrence, and will serve as an inspiration to me in this campaign.”

Zakim was elected to the Boston City Council in 2013, the same year Rivera was elected mayor.

“The Secretary of State’s office is vital to every single person in Massachusetts, even if they don’t realize it,” he said. “From eligible voters to business owners to investors to residents who simply want to know what is happening with their tax dollars, this is their office, and I will be fighting in their corner every day.”



Josh Zakim Challenges Galvin to Six Debates

Proposes Monthly Forums Across the State to Outline Visions for Secretary of State’s Office


Thursday, March 8, 2018



BOSTON—Secretary of State candidate Josh Zakim today challenged his opponent, Secretary William Galvin, to a series of six debates across Massachusetts so voters can learn about their plans and visions for the office.

Zakim is proposing one debate per month in various regions throughout the Commonwealth in the run-up to the state primary in September. He suggested working with a media partner in each area to host and moderate the debates.

“This office affects every person in Massachusetts, from voting rights to public records to being protected from financial scams to business registration, and they deserve to hear what our priorities are,” Zakim said. “I know the last time Secretary Galvin had a primary challenger he decided not to attend the only scheduled debate, so I'm offering him a wide range of options to choose from."

Zakim has made increasing access to government the cornerstone of his campaign, offering proposals to ease barriers to voting, including allowing Election Day registration and weekend voting, and stripping the mandated excuses required to get an absentee ballot. He also supports modernizing the office so as many public records as possible are digitized and accessible online.

“Bringing new ideas and innovation to the office is what prompted me to run in the first place,” Zakim said. “I’ve been thrilled to talk and listen to people all over the state, and I’ll be interested to hear what Secretary Galvin has in mind after 24 years in office.”

Zakim, who has served on the Boston City Council since 2014, is proposing debates in Western Massachusetts, Worcester, the Merrimack Valley, the South Coast, MetroWest and Boston between March and August.

“I will meet with Secretary Galvin anytime anywhere,” Zakim said. “The issues are too important, and this election is too important, to ignore the voters and avoid answering their questions.”



Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz Endorses Josh Zakim for Secretary of State


Friday, March 9, 2018



BOSTON—Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz today endorsed Josh Zakim in his campaign for Secretary of State, saying that Zakim’s focus on increasing access to government for everyone is what Massachusetts needs right now.

“With the Trump Administration and Republicans in Congress doing everything in their power to restrict voting rights and keep people away from the polls, Josh’s focus about removing barriers to the ballot box is crucial,” Narkewicz said. “We need innovative leadership in the Secretary of State’s office, and that’s exactly what Josh will bring.”

Zakim has proposed common sense voting reforms, including Election Day registration, weekend voting, no excuse absentee ballots and increased early voting. His opponent, Secretary Bill Galvin, has resisted these changes for decades, and is currently leading an appeal in the Supreme Judicial Court to keep in place a 20-day voter registration deadline that the Superior Court has called arbitrary and unconstitutional.

Narkewicz was re-elected to his third term as Mayor in 2017. He has compiled an impressive record for his city on issues including fiscal stability, affordable housing, transportation, renewable energy, open space preservation, and economic development.

“I am thrilled to have earned Mayor Narkewicz’s support,” Zakim said. “He has helped Northampton emerge as a regional and statewide leader economically, socially and culturally. His fresh ideas have greatly benefited Northampton, and I look forward to having his help throughout this campaign.”

Zakim, a Boston City Councilor, was first elected in 2013. He chairs the Council’s Committee on Housing and Community Development, as well as the Special Committee on Civil Rights.

“The Secretary of State’s office is vital to every single person in Massachusetts, even if they don’t realize it,” he said. “From eligible voters to business owners to investors to residents who simply want to know what is happening with their tax dollars, this is their office, and I will be fighting in their corner every day.”



Zakim Proposes Common-Sense Voting Changes to Increase Turnout


Tuesday, March 20, 2018



BOSTON – In the first of a series of policy positions to be unveiled in the coming months, Secretary of State candidate Josh Zakim today unveiled a package of common-sense proposals that take aim at reversing the nearly two-decade trend of declining voter turnout in the Commonwealth.

The proposals include allowing elections to be scheduled on weekends, enabling voters to register on Election Day and increasing the period of early voting. He is also recommending scrapping the requirement that eligible voters need a qualifying excuse to be eligible for an absentee ballot.

Expanded voting press conference.jpg

“My campaign is about opening access to government for everyone, and that starts with making it easy and convenient to vote,” Zakim said. “We have seen a drastic decline in voter turnout since 2002. With voting rights under assault from the Trump Administration and Republicans in Congress, it is more important than ever that they be protected and increased at the state level. These are simple and common-sense steps that, frankly, should already be in place.”

The number of voters who have turned out for state primaries in non-presidential election years peaked in 2002 when more than one million people (26 percent of all registered voters) went to the polls. But it has decreased steadily since, and most recently, in 2014, the turnout was just over 700,000 people (16.8 percent).

“That means 300,000 fewer people are having their voices heard,” Zakim said. “That is unacceptable. We need to make it easier for people to register to vote and then get to the polls. That’s why I’m offering these common-sense proposals.”


The proposals include:

  • Weekend Voting: Zakim suggested Secretary of State Galvin consider scheduling this year’s state primary for a weekend in mid-September when he was soliciting feedback about potential dates. He opted instead to hold it for the day after Labor Day, the first time in the 124-year history of the holiday that it has been held then. “When trying to figure out why voter turnout is so low, you only have to look at people working multiple jobs, juggling child care and commitments at home, as well as myriad other responsibilities,” Zakim said. “I support legislation pending in the State House that would allow for elections to be held on weekends.” Currently, 70 countries around the world have weekend voting – about 57 percent of all democracies.


  • Election Day Registration: Fifteen states currently allow voters to register on the same day as the election, including Connecticut, Maine and New Hampshire. In 2017’s Chelsea Collaborative v. Galvin lawsuit, Suffolk Superior Court called the Massachusetts 20-day registration deadline arbitrary and unconstitutional. “Instead of working with the Legislature to find a constitutionally-sound solution, Secretary Galvin has appealed the decision, opting to let the status quo prevail for another election cycle,” Zakim said. “We need Election Day Registration, and we should have it in place for this year’s elections.”


  • Early Voting: While Massachusetts was late to embrace early voting, the five-day period that was allowed before the 2016 election showed promise. Zakim supports expanding it for the 2018 election cycle. Secretary Galvin’s proposal, however, would be for five days of early voting during the last week of August, an ineffective time when many people are on vacation or beginning the new school year. “Holding the primary on the day after Labor Day is a cynical maneuver designed only to depress turnout and strengthen the status quo,” Zakim said. “Scheduling elections and the early voting period that goes with it should be done in a way to ensure the most people possible have a chance to get to the polls.”


  • No Excuse Absentee Voting: Currently, a voter needs to prove they’ll be out of town on Election Day, have a physical disability that prevents them from getting to their polling place or have a religious belief that prohibits them from voting on that particular day. “What about the people who are too busy at their job, or working several jobs, or caring for children, or parents, or grandchildren?” Zakim asked. “Or voters who have limited access to transportation? Those people aren’t covered by the allowable excuses. We need to open up absentee ballots to any eligible voter who wants to get one. Requiring someone to provide a reason for not being able to vote on Election Day is just another barrier to allowing someone to exercise their most sacred right.”



Josh Zakim Statement on President Trump's Blaming Boston and Lawrence for Opioid Crisis in New Hampshire


Monday, March 19, 2018



The following is a statement from Secretary of State candidate Josh Zakim on President Trump’s remarks today on sanctuary cities and the opioid crisis, in which he specifically referred to Boston and Lawrence:


“President Trump has again wrongly targeted immigrants and scapegoated them for the national opioid crisis. I consider sanctuary cities, which were cited derisively by Trump today, as a source of pride for our Commonwealth. I am proud to have authored the Boston Trust Act, which improved trust and cooperation between immigrant communities and law enforcement and prohibited the detention of residents based on immigration status.

“Mayor Walsh in Boston and Mayor Rivera in Lawrence have done an excellent job in helping people battle and beat addiction. Their efforts are saving lives in our cities, our state and across the border in New Hampshire, as well.

“Ending the national opioid crisis will take cooperation from a range of policymakers at all government levels, public health experts, law enforcement, addiction specialists and pharmaceutical companies. It does not require finger pointing and misplaced blame.”


Zakim seeks weekend voting, expanded absentee options


Wednesday, March 21, 2018

By Katie Lannan


 Credit: Jonathan Wiggs

Credit: Jonathan Wiggs

Secretary of state candidate Josh Zakim pledged this week to increase voter turnout if elected, offering up a package of reforms he said would make it easier for people to vote.

Meanwhile, the current officeholder, William Galvin, has been pursuing his own election reform initiatives aimed at expanding access to the polls, and plans on Thursday to join the Massachusetts Election Modernization Coalition “to announce a joint effort on Automatic Voter Registration.”

A Boston city councilor challenging Galvin in September’s Democratic primary, Zakim proposed scheduling elections on weekends, letting voters register on Election Day, expanding early voting, and allowing voters to cast absentee ballots without a providing a reason why they can’t go to the polls.

“In the last nearly quartercentury since Secretary Galvin’s been in office, a lot has changed in our lives,” Zakim said in a press conference outside the State House.

“People are busier, they lead busier lives, they’re working longer hours, commuting further, and it’s not always easy for people to get to the polls on Tuesday, and there’s no reason to have this arbitrary day be the only time you can vote.”


Josh Zakim Statement on Secretary Galvin's Newfound Support for Automatic Voter Registration


Thursday, March 22, 2018



The following is a statement from Secretary of State candidate Josh Zakim on Bill Galvin’s recent decision to support automatic voter registration in the Commonwealth:


“I’d like to welcome Secretary Galvin to the side that supports automatic voter registration. It’s interesting that after literally decades of ignoring AVR amid plummeting voter turnout rates, the incumbent now sees the wisdom of it when he has an opponent in his re-election campaign.

“It’s too bad that several election cycles had to pass with no action from Secretary Galvin on AVR, likely costing hundreds of thousands of people in Massachusetts the opportunity to participate in government and have their voices heard. The numbers don’t lie - Massachusetts is in the midst of a 300,000-voter decline over the past 16 years.

“I have supported automatic voter registration since I was first elected to the Boston City Council in 2013. I’ve seen the positive effect it has had on registration in 15 states, including our neighbors in Vermont, Connecticut and Rhode Island. I sponsored and successfully ushered through a Boston City Council resolution endorsing it last year. Why the incumbent hasn’t tried to do this during his 23-plus years as our state’s chief elections official, until today, is as confounding as it is disturbing.

“Of course, there are other reforms I’m proposing in this campaign that the Secretary is actively working against. He inexplicably continues to appeal the Suffolk Superior Court ruling that our current registration system is unconstitutional, which would also have a significant impact on turnout. His answer to expanded early voting is five days at the end of August. He has remained curiously silent on our proposal to allow for weekend voting.

“I am running because I have the energy and fresh ideas needed to increase access to our government for everyone. Voting is our most basic civil right, and Massachusetts residents deserve a Secretary of State who will remember that every single day.”