Engineering Change in Elections, sponsored by the Brandeis College Democrats and the Brandeis University chapter of No Labels, was a discussion focusing on the problems with the Massachusetts voting systems and possible solutions for these problems. Tyler Creighton, Assistant Director of Common Cause Massachusetts; Pamela Wilmot, Executive Director of Common Cause Massachusetts; and Sara Brady, Policy Director of MassVote were the featured speakers at the event. Common Cause Massachusetts and MassVote are both nonprofit organizations that focus on upholding the accountability of government and advocate for citizen participation in the political process.
Brady began the discussion by mentioning the organizations’ election protection work during the 2012 presidential election and naming some of the key problems with the current Massachusetts voting process. During the election, MassVote sent individuals to polling locations to observe and record various issues voters were facing. Additionally, the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights had a hotline that voters could call if they were experiencing problems on Election Day. According to Wilmot, it was estimated that the hotline received around 1500 calls during this past presidential election.
On Election Day, it was reported that some towns, such as Springfield and Lawrence, ran out of ballots. Voters had to wait for more to be delivered. It was also common for voters to go to the wrong polling locations; those individuals proceeded to have trouble finding out their correct polling locations. According to Wilmot, voters are not easily able to look up information regarding their registration status or polling stations, as the Voter Activation Network, or VAN, is not easy to use and is not available to everyone.