Candidate for secretary of state to visit with Berkshire Democrats

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NORTH ADAMS — The Democratic Party contest for secretary of state hasn't been competitive in more than a decade.

Josh Zakim has changed that.

A three-term Boston City Councilor, Zakim hopes to unseat longtime Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin in the Democratic primary election Sept. 4.

Zakim will meet with the Williamstown and Lanesborough Democratic Town Committees at Williamstown Town Hall at 3:30 p.m. Saturday. He spoke with The Berkshire Eagle ahead of his Berkshires visit.

Transitioning from a career as an attorney, Zakim was elected to the Boston City Council in 2013. He credits his role as chairman of the City Council's Committee on Civil Rights as a launching pad for his secretary of state run.

Zakim is pushing to improve voter registration and turnout in Massachusetts. The secretary of the commonwealth oversees all elections.

"Our right to vote is one of our most vital civil rights," Zakim said. "In Massachusetts, unfortunately, we've really fallen behind when it comes to ballot access."

Some form of same-day voter registration is now implemented in 15 states, while 12 states have automatic voter registration, Zakim noted. Massachusetts has neither.

"There's no excuse for Massachusetts not to be one of those states," Zakim said.

The state's chief elections officer should advocate for such policies, Zakim said, but it "just hasn't been happening."

Such measures are not overly expensive and could be packaged with support and training for local election officials.

Zakim noted that State Auditor Suzanne Bump secured additional funding to reimburse communities for the costs of early voting in the 2016 election, which saw about 22 percent of voters cast ballots ahead Election Day.

"We should have a Secretary of State who's advocating for that funding," Zakim said.

The candidate stressed the importance of security, given attempts to hack elections in the United States.

"I've been talking with folks in the cyber security field around instituting best practices," Zakim said.

The secretary of state also oversees the Massachusetts Historical Commission, which counts the State Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit Program among its responsibilities.

Zakim said he would meet with applicants and provide "predictability and transparency" in the process.

"People shouldn't have to be left hanging year to year to see if the next phase of their project will be funded," Zakim said.

Zakim has also made public records access a campaign issue. He said he would advocate for the state legislature to reform the Public Records Law.

The challenger was critical of Galvin's 2015 view, overturned in Suffolk Superior Court in 2017, that arrest records and mug shots could be withheld from public view. The case was spurred by the Boston Globe's effort to document arrests of police officers.

Zakim is Galvin's first Democratic challenger in 12 years, and it comes at a time when Zakim believes people are increasingly paying attention to current events and becoming more mobilized.

"People are activated, they're ready, they know it's important to show up on election day," Zakim said.

Adam Shanks can be reached at ashanks@berkshireeagle.com, at @EagleAdamShanks on Twitter, or 413-629-4517.


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