FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 15, 2020
Canton, Mass.–The campaign of Kevin O’Connor, candidate for U.S. Senate in Massachusetts, today sent the following letter to Massachusetts’ legislative leadership urging them to align state ballot access requirements with state and federal government recommendations to practice social distancing. He also requested Senator Markey and Congressman Kennedy to join him in this call to action.
“With the outbreak of COVID-19, our state and federal governments have appropriately declared a state of emergency and issued guidance to the public to exercise social distancing. I am writing to (1) call your attention to the dilemma this presents to candidates faced with meeting the Commonwealth’s ballot access requirements, and (2) seek immediate action by the legislature to align the ballot access requirements with the current state of emergency guidance.
“As you know, all candidates for federal, state, district and county office in Massachusetts are required by state law to obtain a minimum number of petition signatures from registered voters in order to qualify for the ballot. Across all of the offices up for election in November 2020, candidates must acquire hundreds of thousands of valid signatures. Collecting signatures requires the candidates’ staffs and volunteers to engage in, literally, millions of social interactions – and includes the exchange of pens, paper, and clipboards, each of which may be handled by hundreds or even thousands of individuals.
“The requirement that campaigns engage in this type of social interaction is inconsistent with recommendations from every level of government to strictly limit person-to-person contact. Campaigns currently face a choice: abide by the recommendations of the government to observe social distancing, or risk failing to qualify for the ballot. In the interests of democracy and public health, it is imperative that the legislature align the ballot access requirements with current guidance as it relates to the coronavirus.
“With the April 28th deadline for submitting nominating papers to local elections officials quickly approaching, we urge you to take swift action. By copy on this letter, we respectfully ask Senator Markey and Representative Kennedy to join us in our request to adapt the current ballot access requirements so that we can meet the mutually achievable goals of ensuring the public’s safety and safeguarding the fairness of our democratic process. We stand ready to offer perspective as to the practicalities of any solution you may consider.”