WRITE-IN VOTE FOR ‘DAN VALENTI’ BETTER THAN THE BLANK AND FAR BETTER THAN NOT VOTING AT ALL … ‘CANDIDATE’ VOWS CAMPAIGN NOT TO CAMPAIGN … RESERVES THE RIGHT TO UNLIMITED FLIP-FLOPS
By DAN VALENTI
PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, TUESDAY, SEPT. 10, 2013) — Dan Valenti‘s write-in “candidacy” for mayor can be seen as the “None of the above” (NOTA) option — rather, its equivalent. Or as Pittsfield bedraggled voters and taxpayers might phrase it, “Free at last! Free at last! O Lord Almighty, we’re free at last!”
You see, these voters will no longer have to stay away from voting because of their total disgust with city politics, and they won’t have to burn a vote on a blank. Now, they can simply write in “Dan Valenti” for mayor. With those two words, the frustrated, angry, and Forgotten Little Guys can send a big message to Dan Bianchi.
Just don’t give Valenti enough votes to actually win the darn thing, OK? [Full disclosure: The "candidate" asked THE PLANET to forward that plea]. What, you think he’d want to get in the cage with them animals? What, you think he’d want to take the steep pay cut? What, him worry?
As of this moment, Valenti’s name has been kicking around as a write-in option, a movement (if we can call it such) started without THE PLANET’s knowledge but without its opposition. Though as of now not running or intending to run a campaign of any sort, formal or informal, Valenti has told those who have contacted him that he will not object to his name being written in as a vote and offers it as the sacrificial lamb of the November passion play.
THE PLANET goes one step further than Valenti and invites any dissatisfied voters who would otherwise not vote in the mayoral election to enter in “Dan Valenti” on the write-in line. As an interesting aside, write-ins for “THE PLANET” would probably also be counted in Valenti’s tally, since to whom else could such a write-in be referring? In weighing the validity of a write-in ballot, the major factor is the voter’s intent.
Write-In = The Equivalent of NOTA
THE PLANET has long argued for NOTA to be printed on all ballots to every elected office, since it would bring alienated, disgruntled voters to the booths with a place to deposit their dissatisfaction. Along the way, some of them, knowing that they would be voting, will begin to pay attention to certain races and actually cast votes for a candidate. However, even if that didn’t happen and members of the electorate showed up simply to vote NOTA, it would still be a worthwhile practice. After all, the idea of democracy is to encourage broad-based participation.
The usual 20 percentile range of Pittsfield election turnouts cannot be accepted or acceptable. This leads to a second electoral reform THE PLANET has long advocated: Vacating any election that doesn’t draw at least 50% + 1 of all registered voters. Consider that in the past election, Dan Bianchi won re-election despite the fact that three our of every four voters either voted for someone else or did not vote at all. Under our proposed reform, another election would have to be conducted.
NOTA is an “against all” or “scratch” vote, a ballot option for those of the political philosophy: “Throw the bums out.” NOTA, a standard ballot option in Greece and other countries, has the following history in the United States:
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The origination of the ballot option “None of the Above” in the United States can be traced to the Isla Vista Municipal Advisory Council in its 1976 resolution to place this option on the official electoral ballot in Santa Barbara County in California. Then council members Walter Wilson and Matthew Landy Steen introduced the legal resolution to amend existing ballot options for elections from then on. In 1978. the State of Nevada adopted “None of the Above” as a ballot option. In late 1999 in California, citizen proponents of Proposition 23, titled the “None of the Above Act”, qualified a new State ballot initiative through circulated petitions submitted to the Secretary of the State. A total of $987,000 was expended in promotion of the ballot option, which was defeated in the March 2000 general election by a margin of 64% to 36%. If passed by the voters, it would have required this new ballot option for all state and federal elective offices, exempting only local judicial races; in determining official election results, the none of the above voter tally would be discarded in favor of the candidate with the greatest number of votes [from Wikipedia].
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As you can guess, though, NOTA won’t be coming to Pittsfield any time soon, so let’s get real. How can we bring some of the 80% or so who do not vote back to the polls. THE PLANET thinks a viable write-in name is the best way to do it. There are options for voters to register displeasure, in sum, and the best one is a write-in vote.
The write-in vote can be seen as a protest vote, far different from a wasted vote. If you write in “Dan Valenti,” for example, in the municipal mayoral election in November, you will send a message that beats out the blanks. Speaking of blanks, we recall one of Bianchi’s final re-election showing in Ward 6 (as we remember it, the final time he ran in the ward) when the blanks beat Bianchi in 6B.
U.S. electoral law permits liberal use of the write-in capability, empowering voters to do more than simply not vote if they can’t find any of the bums to their liking. The law is simple: Write-in candidates can compete in any election, including, of course, local and municipal elections. In Massachusetts, the Secretary of State’s office has determined that in counting a write-in ballot, the prime consideration is given to “voter intent.”
This means that voters may misspell a name, leave out an address for their write in choice, or make other mistakes. As long as the voter’s intent is clear, the vote counts. For instance, if you intended to write in “Dan Valenti” and wrote “Dar Valente” or any other mistake that nonetheless revealed your intention to vote to Dan Valenti, the vote would count. If you write “Steve Valenti,” however, Pittsfield’s downtown dresser to the stars would likely be in the mayoral hunt.
Massachusetts leads the Way
Massachusetts, by the way, has a decent history in selecting write-in candidates. In 1928, Herbert Hoover won the state GOP primary as a write-in, getting 100,279 votes. In 1952 and 1956, Dwight Eisenhower took the GOP presidential primary with respective votes of 254,898 and 51,951. Richard Nixon pulled the trick in 1960 with 53,164 write-ins. Republican Henry Cabot Lodge defeated Barry Goldwater here in 1964 as a write-in. Readers of a certain type of juvenile satire may recall that each year from 1960 to 1980, Mad Magazine called on readers to write in Alfred E. Neuman for President. His slogans were, “You could do worse, and you already have!” and “There are Bigger Idiots running for office.”
There is no truth to the rumor, spread by political opponents, no doubt, that Dan Valenti intends to use that last slogan. In fact, THE PLANET pledges that
* Valenti’s campaign will be not to campaign at all.
* Valenti will raise no money for the “campaign.”
* Valenti will spend no money to win.
* Valenti will not move to Pittsfield (as a write-in candidate, he wouldn’t have to!)
Of course, this being politics, he reserves the right to change his mind about any and all of this. That’s how it’s done, right? So start practicing your printing, your cursive, or your Palmer Method. Write out 100 times: “Dan Valenti — None of the Above.”
“The benches are broken, the grassplots brown and bare, / the laurel’s dejected in this neglected square. / Dogs couple undisturbed. The roots of trees / heave up bricks in the sidewalks as they please.” — Conrad Aiken, first stanza, “South End” (1942).
“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”
LOVE TO ALL.