Jonathan Paz has been involved in Waltham politics for a number of years. He is an SEIU employee and has held leadership posts in Progressive Waltham. Paz first registered to vote in 2017 at age 24 and cast his first ballot a year later in the statewide general elections. Earlier this year, he announced his own bid for office, launching a campaign for the Waltham City Council’s seat in Ward 9.
In order to run, Paz submitted nomination papers on May 31, and they were certified by the clerk’s office. In a preliminary election on September 17, he came in second place, ensuring that he will appear on the November ballot. He also got to cast a vote for himself.
The problem is, Jonathan Paz is not actually his name.
When Paz registered to vote in 2017, he did so under the name Edwin Jonathan Pazarevalo (or Edwin Jonathan Paz Arevalo). Some time between March and September of this year, the city clerk allowed Paz to change his formal voter registration name to Jonathan Paz, and he voted under that name.
According to the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s Elections Division, a candidate’s name must appear on the ballot the same way it does on their voter registration, and to register to vote, a citizen must provide documentation verifying their legal name.
Reasonable modifications are allowed by the state on both voter and candidate registration forms, as long as they match and do not deceive voters. In an e-mail, a state elections official explained it this way:
“In general, it is acceptable to register to vote using a common or known nickname. For instance, State Representative William ‘Smitty’ Pignatelli appears on the ballot in that manner because he changed his registration to reflect that. State Senator Viriato deMacedo goes by Vinny and updated his registration so that he appears as Vinny deMacedo on the ballots.”
However, the official notes that “candidates changing their last name for the ballot is far less common and could result in a challenge. Anything about your candidacy, including name and residence, is subject to challenge before the board of registrars, and it is possible that someone may file a challenge alleging an intent to defraud.”
In the case of a more substantial alteration of a name, a citizen is encouraged to file a formal name change, which requires that they submit paperwork with the Middlesex County Probate and Family Court and appear at a hearing. As of September 30, the court has no record of a name change involving a Jonathan Paz.
Perhaps this is why Paz did not sign the campaign finance report he submitted to the city clerk on September 9 despite the fact that a legal signature is required and carries a penalty of perjury for signing off on information that is knowingly false.
I was a donor to the third candidate, who did not make it through the September 17 preliminary and I have been vocal about my displeasure with the incumbent councilor who came in first place. But the revelations regarding Paz go far beyond those of good-natured rivalry.
Something is not right here, including the fact that Paz’s unsigned campaign finance filing has the incumbent councilor’s address printed on it, and is then crossed off with another address written in above it.
Issues relating to honesty in elections are essential for basic trust in a democratic system. Residents of Ward 9 appear to have just voted in a questionable election and are about to be asked to do it again in November. They will have to bring this to the state’s elections division if they want a fair election before then. Otherwise, it appears that their election could be contested the day after it happens.
Meanwhile, Paz and the city clerk owe voters immediate answers. Why was Paz able to solicit signatures for election and submit a nomination form under this name? How was he able to then change his voter registration to this name without changing his legal name, then use it to appear on the ballot, and file a campaign finance report without signing it?
And for the candidate, why do it at all? Why go through such effort when it appears to be a relatively straightforward process to simply comply with the rules of running for election?
Contact for the state elections division—
Toll-Free: 1-800-462-VOTE (8683)