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Fight over voter file

Wednesday, Feb 19, 2014

* I told subscribers recently that the Cook County Democratic Party Chairman had informed ward and township committeemen that “all access to the Votebuilder voter file for committeemen has been suspended.”

Chairman Joe Berrios explained the access had been cut “due to the terms of the new contract between the Democratic Party of Illinois and the national provider for the file.”

The Sun-Times takes a longer look

John Arena, the alderman and Democratic committeeman for the 45th Ward, says Berrios recently told him he could not get the voter file because his ward organization is “not endorsing the full slate.”

It’s a slate that includes state Rep. Maria Antonia “Toni” Berrios. She’s one of Joe Berrios’ three offspring (the other two being aides in the county assessor’s office that their dad leads).

Arena’s 45th Ward Democrats and some other ward organizations have strayed from the rest of the party flock to support challenger Will Guzzardi, who nearly unseated Toni Berrios in the last election and now is getting help from the Chicago Teachers Union.

Some committeemen who asked for and were denied the voter file also broke ranks with the bosses to support Nancy Schiavone against newly appointed state Rep. Jaime Andrade. He’s a longtime loyalist in Dick Mell’s 33rd Ward Democratic organization who replaced Mell’s daughter Deb in the General Assembly when she left Springfield to take dad’s longtime seat at the City Council. […]

Jay Travis, who’s challenging Democratic state Rep. Christian Mitchell of Chicago, says getting enough signatures to appear on the primary ballot should have qualified her to get a copy of the voter file.

She ran into reality when her campaign asked the state Democratic Party for help.

In an e-mail that Travis shared with the Chicago Sun-Times, a state party official told her campaign manager, “Please be advised that your request for access to VoteBuilder for Jhatoyn ‘Jay’ Travis during the 2014 primary cycle has been denied due to: Challenging an incumbent.”

Essentially, the party pays for the VoteBuilder file, and the party makes endorsements. And if those endorsements are defied, then the party feels it has the right to deny access to the file.

This unruliness has irked Speaker Madigan for years. He was behind a county party rule change some time ago that threatened committeemen with losing their party posts if they backed a challenger to a slated candidate. That didn’t work. So, since so many committeemen were defying the slating process, access to the voter file was completely cut off.

Thoughts?

- Posted by Rich Miller        


31 Comments
  1. - lake county democrat - Wednesday, Feb 19, 14 @ 12:03 pm:

    Much as I hate the Madigan/Berios/Burke cabal, there’s nothing inherently wrong with this. It’s one thing to run dummy candidates in primaries, send thugs into campaign offices, grant favors for people who steal from school districts and defy countless conflicts-of-interests in fundraising, etc., but if the party is paying to develop a database, why shouldn’t the party get to control it?


  2. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Feb 19, 14 @ 12:05 pm:

    Love it.

    “Going rogue” will be met with discipline. Yes. Same as Fix News Channel darling Erika Harold. You go against Your Party and the Slate, or what as a coalition party is trying to do, the Party has ZERO responsiblity to help you.

    None.

    Can’t love it enough. Leader Durkin gets “it” too.

    Either we hang together, or we most assuredly hang separately…

    You want to take in Your Party, have it, bless your heart. Do not think for a millisecond, the likes of a MJM or a Berrios, and now even the ILGOP and Durkin are finally getting it too.

    Good stuff.


  3. - 47th Ward - Wednesday, Feb 19, 14 @ 12:06 pm:

    “I don’t belong to any organized political party. I’m a Democrat.”


  4. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Feb 19, 14 @ 12:06 pm:

    “…Fox News…”

    Stupid auto-correct, and that correct made it inherently snarky, which was not my intent. At all.


  5. - Walker - Wednesday, Feb 19, 14 @ 12:08 pm:

    Is it that “all access for Committeemen has been suspended” as Berrios announced, or is it that some get it and some do not, as implied by the newspaper reporting?

    I read Berrios’ comment as a delaying tactic while the issue is being argued and settled.

    I any case, those suburban Committeemen who are not always in lock-step with the Cook Co organization, have an updated voter file that works just fine for them.


  6. - Anonish - Wednesday, Feb 19, 14 @ 12:21 pm:

    This is interesting considering stories I’ve heard in recent years of Madigan, Burke and allies working against party slated candidates. Not openly of course. Maybe that’s where these guys went wrong.


  7. - shore - Wednesday, Feb 19, 14 @ 12:28 pm:

    Life is make it take it and I’m with madigan and berrios here.


  8. - Judgment Day - Wednesday, Feb 19, 14 @ 12:28 pm:

    From a tech standpoint, this is surprising. The leadership in the Democratic party seems intent on created what is called a digital “walled garden” inside the party by being punitive.

    You don’t buy the line, you don’t get access to the data.

    Good luck with that. There’s a whole lot of ‘name’ companies out there in the marketplace who have/are trying to accomplish that, and have had some limited runs of success, but it’s an expensive and time consuming path. And people kind of resent it and are always looking for ways to get around it.

    Biggest negative IMO is that when you create these types of barriers, you end up in effect sending a message that all the great ideas only come from inside, and they are the only ones welcome. That works for a while - but the folks kicked to the outside tend to be smart too.

    Things can change.


  9. - OneMan - Wednesday, Feb 19, 14 @ 12:32 pm:

    The other challenge is that (assuming the Dem system isn’t that different than what Voter Vault was) if you give other entities a reason to develop their own voter file and their own additional information.

    I think you would rather have this people inside the tent vs out.


  10. - Walker - Wednesday, Feb 19, 14 @ 12:32 pm:

    If this is really about who should control access, Berrios or Madigan, then I prefer Madigan. He knows when to be flexible in order to win swing areas.


  11. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Feb 19, 14 @ 12:39 pm:

    Who do these Aldermen think they are to assume they should automatically receive access to the Voter File which is paid for and maintained by the State party? If they are not careful, not only will they not have access to the file, but they will also find themselves with opponents next February.


  12. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Feb 19, 14 @ 12:47 pm:

    === I think you would rather have this people inside the tent vs out. ===

    The problem is that some of these people are trying to use that data against the people who are providing access to the data. From a logical standpoint, it doesn’t make sense to grant them access.


  13. - OneMan - Wednesday, Feb 19, 14 @ 12:47 pm:

    Who do these Aldermen think they are to assume they should automatically receive access to the Voter File which is paid for and maintained by the State party? If they are not careful, not only will they not have access to the file, but they will also find themselves with opponents next February

    And that thought process kids, is why I would discourage anyone who doesn’t have some sort of direct or indirect financial interest government and government contracts from getting involved.

    Shut up and do what you are told.


  14. - paddyrollingstone - Wednesday, Feb 19, 14 @ 12:59 pm:

    “You go against Your Party and the Slate, or what as a coalition party is trying to do, the Party has ZERO responsiblity to help you.” 100 percent agreed.


  15. - Left Leaner - Wednesday, Feb 19, 14 @ 1:01 pm:

    MJM: “We’re here to talk democracy, not practice it.”


  16. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Feb 19, 14 @ 1:05 pm:

    === MJM: “We’re here to talk democracy, not practice it.” ===

    How does this issue have anything to do with not practicing democracy? Get on the ballot, run your campaign, get out YOUR voters. If you want to run for office, you shouldn’t EXPECT people to make it easy for you. If you can’t handle that, maybe you shouldn’t be running for office.


  17. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Feb 19, 14 @ 1:08 pm:

    === Shut up and do what you are told. ===

    Its not about doing what you are told. John Arena or Scott Waguespack can endorse whatever candidate they wants They just shouldn’t expect to use State Party resources to defeat a State Party endorsed incumbant. To think otherwise is just insanity.


  18. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Feb 19, 14 @ 1:11 pm:

    This story really isn’t much different than another recent story we discussed here: http://capitolfax.com/2013/12/16/durkin-cuts-off-caprios-access-to-voter-file/


  19. - Steve - Wednesday, Feb 19, 14 @ 1:15 pm:

    Great moments of the Democrat party. Support Boss Madigan or else.


  20. - A. Nonymous - Wednesday, Feb 19, 14 @ 1:22 pm:

    Clarification: The file in question is maintained by the County Chairman’s Assocation - not the State Party. Ostensibly this was a decision by Berrios, the chairman of the Cook COUNTY Democrats.


  21. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Feb 19, 14 @ 1:23 pm:

    ===: The file in question is maintained by the County Chairman’s Assocation - not the State Party===

    The state party is the one with the contract.


  22. - downstate demo - Wednesday, Feb 19, 14 @ 2:27 pm:

    Rich I believe that my county chairman told us at a recent meeting that the state party was taking control of vote builder from the chairman’s association. Any candidate can buy a voter file from the SBE or their local election authority. A file that is more current than vote builder


  23. - Anonimo - Wednesday, Feb 19, 14 @ 3:21 pm:

    The ward Democratic Committeeman were elected - they’re party officials and their access to the file should not be limited in any way.


  24. - Carl Nyberg - Wednesday, Feb 19, 14 @ 3:26 pm:

    Why use a product that can be cut-off at key times?


  25. - bored now - Wednesday, Feb 19, 14 @ 3:27 pm:

    rich is right, it was changed last year. the state party had first rights, and choose to exercise it (since van vastly exceeded the speaker’s own database)…


  26. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Feb 19, 14 @ 4:01 pm:

    === The ward Democratic Committeeman were elected - they’re party officials and their access to the file should not be limited in any way. ===

    Even if they are going against the party? Explain the logic in that?

    Arena and Waguespack and others like them are going out of their way to distance themselves from the party. They proclaim to be “independent” Democrats on their websites, and in some cases, even claim to have political organizations that are designed to go against the “machine politicians” of the county and state parties. If they want to be independent from the State party, and support candidates that are challenging the State party, why should they have access State party resources to further their political goals?


  27. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Feb 19, 14 @ 4:09 pm:

    Can you define “insanity” within that context, Anonymous 1:08 (and all the others it looks like)?


  28. - Bobo - Wednesday, Feb 19, 14 @ 5:56 pm:

    That Arena guy can’t get along with anyone anyway. He’s pick a fight with Mother Teresa


  29. - Truthteller - Wednesday, Feb 19, 14 @ 10:03 pm:

    I believe that the Democratic County Chairman’s Association had been the statewide administrator of the Democratic voter file for the last few years. That changed recently when the DNC gave that administrator position to DPI who insisted on having it. Days after DPI took over the file they cut off primary challengers to Democratic incumbents especially in Cook County. So much for the voter file not being used by the state Democratic Party as a cudgel against Democrats who don’t tow their line.


  30. - low level - Thursday, Feb 20, 14 @ 7:00 am:

    Forget about the voter file - and go knock on doors. Go to city elections board and/or county Clerk’s office and get precinct list of registered voters. Take said lists and knock on doors. Cost=0. People talk about this voter file as if you can’t win without it. Nonsense. Stop complaining. If they spent half the time actually campaigning, rather than complaining, they might get someplace!


  31. - Spagnost - Friday, Feb 21, 14 @ 2:42 pm:

    ===: The file in question is maintained by the County Chairman’s Assocation - not the State Party===

    ===:The state party is the one with the contract.===

    The State Party controls the contract now and shut everyone down who currently had a contract with the IL CCA on January 27th. Also to those saying stay in line or don’t get access, everyone still has to pay for access to Votebuilder unless of course Madigan wants to in-kind the access as he has done for Toni Berrios and others.

    Votebuilder is arguably the best/most frequently used by Democratic candidates though I suspect that if DPI stonewalls candidates challenging incumbents or overprices them for access people will just flock to Nationbuilder.


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