Galvin seeks court order to finalize ballot count in Fourth Congressional District race

BOSTON — Massachusetts’ Secretary of the Commonwealth is asking courts to let local officials continue counting ballots in order to finalize one of the state’s primary contests.

William Galvin announced Tuesday afternoon he was seeking the legal authorization for officials in Barnstable County to continue tallying the ballots that arrived at the last minute in order to settle the race to replace Rep. Joe Kennedy III.

The race was down to a thousand-vote difference between candidates Jake Auchincloss and Jesse Mermell.

Around 1,400 ballots across three towns and cities remain uncounted: 751 came in between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. before the deadline.

Existing state laws lack procedures for the counting of state primary ballots after Election Day. In order to ensure that the ballot counting process is fully transparent for all candidates and voters, Secretary Galvin is filing a petition with Suffolk Superior Court to ensure that local election officials have the legal authorization they need to tally ballots in a manner that is open to public observation.

—  Sec. of the Commonwealth William F. Galvin

“On Election Day, there are strict procedures in place to make sure that ballots are counted in public view, where anyone may observe the process. It is important that we preserve that same level of transparency for ballots counted after Election Day,” Galvin said.

It was a pre-primary prediction for political insiders like John Cleverious of UMass-Lowell.

“I think that’s what can see in the 4th Congressional district, that election with number of candidates, with the limited number of polling that race is the one most likely to be determined on election night or closely after,” Cleverious said.

The candidates in the Fourth Congressional District are waiting on results to concede or claim victory.

Galvin halted counting and waited for a Superior Court judge to sign off, basically to make sure the process is as transparent as possible in unprecedented times.

It comes as a deluge of mail-in ballots arrived through the mail, shattering records.

“I’m pretty confident that what we are seeing now would be happening regardless of the situation,” said Alex Psilakis, policy and communications manager at MassVOTE. “Anytime a Democratic incumbent steps down, there is a lot of people competing for that seat because they know it might be there only chance for decades.”

MassVOTE believes the turnout in this primary shows vote by mail should be here to stay.

But others think this election exposes a weakness that will need to be fixed before the general election.

“Shows that if we are having (it at) a local level, can you imagine what’s gonna happen on a national level, where we are having a lot of issues with the post office right now – I see a lot of political chaos come November,” Psilakis said.

Reps. Neal, Moulton, Lynch win in Democratic primary races