Mass Scorecard Frequently Asked QuestionsThe Scorecard FAQs below refer to the 2003-2004 legislative session (the most recently completed session).
We are currently creating the Mass Scorecard for the 2005-2006 session.
You can see a sample of the 2005 House votes online now.
We will post the complete Mass Scorecard voting records for all legislators prior to the September 2006 primaries.
You can find the new party platform linked from our new House votes list also.
Frequently Asked Questions about the Mass Scorecard
Basics about the Mass Scorecard
A: Until the Massachusetts Democratic Party carries out the vote of its Issues Convention from June 2003 the Mass Scorecard will be the implementation of the Accountability Amendment which passed 60% to 40% at that convention.
A: Our mission is to provide information to the voting public about how legislative voting records relate to the Massachusetts Democratic Party. Our purpose is to expose voting records to the public, and to show the degree to which each legislator adheres to the party platform.
A: This website (www.MassScorecard.org) lists each legislator and how he or she voted in a set of key ballots that reflect positions taken by the platform of the Massachusetts Democratic Party. The sum of votes in agreement with the party platform is given at the end. The scorecard itself comprises the collected list of all the legislators with their score. The details of how we select the votes and the related section of the platform are detailed below. You can see a sample for one legislator at Jay_Kaufman.htm
A: The basis for the Mass Scorecard is the Massachusetts Democratic Party Charter. In Article 6, Section V, entitled “Adherence to Platform by Democratic Officials,” the charter says:
“The most recent Democratic platform and/or agenda is the official position of the Democratic Party. Every Democratic committee member, every Democratic nominee, and every official elected as the Democratic nominee shall adhere to the national, state, and any local platform, in that order of priority, in all official statements and actions. Failure to do so shall not result in any removal or loss of rights within the Party, but may be publicized by resolutions or other appropriate action of any Party convention, conference, committee, or caucus.”We are publicizing Democratic elected officials’ voting records as recommended in the party charter.
A: First, they’re unambiguous – a yes or no statement on a particular issue. Second, these votes come from an official record maintained by the Massachusetts government. And third, “surveys suggest a strong desire by citizens to see the voting records of their lawmakers,” as reported in the New York Times. The Massachusetts legislature’s voting records are impenetrable to the voting public, and there are no websites to provide that information
A: The Mass Scorecard is a project of the Progressive Democrats of Somerville* and CPPAX (Citizens for Participation in Political Action), with the technology provided by OnTheIssues.org. This coalition of progressive organizations prepared the Issues Convention resolution and undertook the work to get it passed. We encourage participation in our coalition by other progressive groups, especially local chapters of the Progressive Democrats of Massachusetts. The technology behind the Mass Scorecard is adapted from OnTheIssues.org, which provides voting records on-line for federal legislators.
A: We intended to create the Mass Scorecard in conjunction with the Massachusetts Democratic Party and as an official document of the Massachusetts Democratic Party. The Mass Scorecard currently has no formal connection with, nor authorization from, the Massachusetts Democratic Party. We negotiated with representatives of the Massachusetts Democratic Party leadership for 14 months to implement the Mass Scorecard before giving up and implementing it on our own. The Massachusetts Democratic Party leadership responded by removing our representatives from the relevant committees. (More details here).
A: The party platform is the document that defines what the Massachusetts Democratic Party believes in. Few people agree with the platform 100%, but calling yourself a Democrat means you agree with most of it.
A: It’s where the Massachusetts Democratic Party gathers to decide on the content of the party platform, once every four years, most recently in 2001. In between, Issues Conventions amend the platform with an Action Agenda. The Issues Convention in June 2003 amended the 2001 platform, and hence the Accountability Amendment is part of the 2003 Action Agenda. Our coalition had numerous members who were elected as delegates to the Issues Convention.
A: The party charter defines the rules of the Massachusetts Democratic Party, as decided at the Issues Convention. While the platform provides guidance to legislators on how the Massachusetts Democratic Party expects them to vote, the party charter provides guidance for internal party matters.
A: Our coalition gathered the signatures of over 1,000 delegates to the Massachusetts Issues Convention, which allowed a floor vote on the following amendment to the Action Agenda:
We call for promoting accountability to the Party Platform and reinforcing the Party’s commitment to social and economic justice, by publishing a ‘scorecard’ by March 1 of each year, indicating how Democratic legislators voted on 10 fundamental issues from the current Party Platform.The floor vote resulted in a 60% to 40% passage of the Amendment.
A: The Progressive Democrats of Somerville originally developed the idea for the Mass Scorecard. The Progressive Democrats of Massachusetts, a still-in-formation organization, has no formal connection with the Mass Scorecard, except that the people involved overlap. If you're interested in joining the Progressive Democrats of Somerville or the Progressive Democrats of Cambridge, or you would like to work on the Mass Scorecard, please contact us at Membership@MassScorecard.org .
A: Citizens for Participation in Political Action is one of the oldest progressive organizations in Massachusetts. CPPAX formed in the 1960s and has worked on progressive issues from establishing the nation’s first Earth Day in 1971, to the Clean Elections campaign in 1998-2002. CPPAX is also a membership organization -- if you are interested in joining, or to learn more about CPPAX, go to www.CPPAX.org .
Press about the Mass Scorecard
A: Former Rep. Mickey Edwards (R, OK) published an article in the Boston Globe saying that the Mass Scorecard would help Republicans by pushing legislative candidates to the left. We disagree – we think that many independent voters will view the Mass Scorecard as a sign of the health of the Massachusetts Democratic Party, and will become more involved with electoral politics as a result. In particular, new voters and previously disaffected voters will view the accountability associated with the Mass Scorecard as a signal that the Massachusetts Democratic Party is addressing the desires of independent voters.
Scot Lehigh published an op-ed in the Boston Globe concluding that the Issues Convention should be canceled rather than push the Democratic party from centrist to progressive. We conclude that the Mass Scorecard will make the Issues Convention a more meaningful venue to debate what the Democratic Party should stand for, and that that process would invigorate the Democratic Party as well.
A: In September 2003, we made a mistake by leaving a pilot website on the Internet for too long. We created a pilot, with meaningless sample votes, to illustrate how the Mass Scorecard computer system would work, so we could demonstrate it to our fellow Democrats and establish a process for creating the Mass Scorecard. We intended it as a private website, but Google.com somehow indexed it (a testament to their efficiency). It contained only 4 votes – not enough for any rigorous analysis – while the final Mass Scorecard will include perhaps three dozen votes. A senate aide found the Mass Scorecard on Google, then photocopied it and distributed it on the Senate floor. The information in the pilot was never intended for public dissemination and was entirely to demonstrate the technical aspects of the Mass Scorecard system. Accordingly, once we discovered that we were listed on Google, we removed the content of the Mass Scorecard. We have now re-posted the Mass Scorecard with meaningful content. In the interim, we tried (and failed) to establish the details of that process, in conjunction with the Massachusetts Democratic Party.
Process and Structure of the Mass Scorecard
A: We attempted to develop a complete process for selecting the votes in the Mass Scorecard and for how those votes are presented, under the auspices of the Public Policy Committee of the Massachusetts Democratic Party. That committee includes state representatives, state senators, and Democratic State Committee (DSC) members. The DSC as a body would vote annually (at the November or December DSC meeting) on accepting or modifying the process. We would then select the votes to include on the scorecard, with that same group absent the elected legislators, since their votes are the ones being scored and they therefore might be seen as having a conflict of interest. Our coalition would then implement the scorecard according to the methods defined by the Public Policy Committee and approved by the DSC. An outline of the process appears below – this would have been a first draft subject to modification by the Public Policy Committee.
A: The website has a link to the legislator’s web page for each member of the Massachusetts House. It also has a table listing the following:
A: We list a summary page of all of the legislators for easy navigation. Viewers can bring up two pages side-by-side. We intend to eventually include primary challengers. A similar method would apply to the Senate.
A: There are three methods to deal with absences.
A: We score Republicans in the same manner as we’re scoring Democrats, with their votes compared to the Democratic Party Platform. Of course Republicans have no obligation to adhere to the Democratic platform, and presumably their scores will reflect a difference in philosophy. We think citizens will find the Republicans’ votes much less in alignment with the Massachusetts electorate than the Democrats’ votes, which is one of the motivating factors for our creation of the Mass Scorecard.
A: We will allow challengers to report to us how they would vote on each issue included on the scorecard. Challengers may also comment on each issue, indicating why they would vote the way they indicate. Incumbents may also provide comments on each vote, but do not have the opportunity to change their voting record.
A: Our criteria for selecting votes are:
A: First, sign up on our e-mail list. Second, join one of our coalition organizations or help us directly with volunteer labor. Third, write in support of the Mass Scorecard. Fourth, we accept donations.
A: We are an all-volunteer coalition and could use your help. If you are interested in working on the Mass Scorecard, please contact us at MassScorecard@MassScorecard.org . If you would like to write a letter of support, send an e-mail to that same address.
A: The Progressive Democrats of Somerville and the Progressive Democrats of Cambridge have regular meetings -- contact us if you're interested in getting involved. Look for our next meeting dates on our websites. We are not affiliated with the Progressive Democrats of Massachusetts -- their website is www.progressiveDems.org. We are not affiliated with the Progressive Democrats of America -- their website is www.pdAmerica.org.
A: Citizens for Participation in Political Action is a membership organization with annual dues and regular meetings. If you are interested in joining, contact CPPAX@MassScorecard.org .
A: The Mass Scorecard website is hosted by OnTheIssues.org, which is part of the Speakout Foundation, a not-for-profit organization. The Speakout Foundation accepts tax-deductible contributions as a 501(c)(3) corporation. You may send donations to 1770 Mass Ave, #630, Cambridge MA, 02140.
A: To get the political story beyond the basic facts, read more.
MassScorecard.org is a project of PDS and CPPAX with technology provided by OnTheIssues.org. We are seeking grant funding for the continuation of this website; tax-deductible donations may be sent to our affiliated 501(c)(3) organization, The Speakout Foundation. To contact representatives of the Mass Scorecard, View Contact Information