Juliette Kayyem Did Not Vote in a Couple of Elections

Is this a big deal or no big deal?

Periodically I like to ask, concerning an issue hitting a candidate: How big a deal should this be for voters? Putting aside my political analysis of whether it will hurt the candidate at the polls, is it something that voters should reasonably hold against the candidate—and if so, how much?

Today I ask about the Globe‘s discovery that gubernatorial candidate Juliette Kayyem did not vote in a couple of very important recent Massachusetts elections: Scott Brown vs. Martha Coakley for US Senate, January 2010; and Charlie Baker vs. Deval Patrick for Governor, November 2010.

My initial reaction was that this could be a legitimate issue—not huge, but meaningful in assessing Kayyem. The results of those elections were likely to have very big effects on real policy going forward, with a lot at stake for people of the Commonwealth. If she couldn’t be bothered to participate in those choices, it might suggest a certain dilettantish nature to her sudden political enthusiasm.

But it seems to me there’s not much here to suggest that; she seems to have been a regular voter for years, who chose not to vote in Massachusetts while living and claiming residence in Washington, D.C., during the time she worked for the Obama administration.

I will say, though, that I was put off by the apparent fumbling of the question. The campaign told the Globe that Kayyem’s recollection was that she registered to vote in Washington; that turned out to be untrue. A minor flub, perhaps, but suggesting that she and her team might not have the basic communications competence to get easily-verifiable facts straight before answering questions about something potentially controversial.

So, I’m a little concerned about that, but I think overall I would rate this as a minor deal, at best.

But the idea of Big Deal Or No Big Deal is to find out what you think. So please leave comments and let me know!

  • Laura Henze Russell

    A much more interesting question is to ask all candidates for office if they will join the Coalition for Good Health’s Call for a Surgeon General Report on Dental Amalgam and Mercury Health Risks. And if they will pledge to refuse and return campaign contributions from the ADA and its member dentists until the ADA stops opposing the FDA’s Scientific Advisory Panel on Amalgam’s stand that this neurotoxin should be restricted with patient warnings and informed written consent as in many other nations, or banned outright as in Scandinavia and Japan.

  • Peter Stack

    My more interesting question is why the Globe thought it was significant once they had the full story. Her family was living/working in DC. Did they go after Markey’s residence with such gusto (No). Seems to me that they’re looking out for Coakley in an attempt to dig up dirt. That also tells me that they are concerned about Kayyem getting to 15%. In short run, bad story for Kayyem but bodes well for her in the long run.

  • christineboston

    It’s a big deal. Not that hard to get an absentee ballot or change your voting registration. In a country and world where so many people work hard to get the vote – and so many people don’t bother to vote, it looks really bad to have a candidate vying for votes to not even bother for a few years. The two voters in my household have never missed an election. I started voting when Ronald Reagan was running for President, my 22 year old son comes home from college or gets an absentee ballot and hasn’t missed once since he turned 18. We celebrate election days like holidays in our house. Wish everyone did. Interesting to think about what that would mean for our government, at all levels.