Poll workers spend hours counting untallied ballots for close 4th Congressional District race

FRANKLIN, Mass. — We saw some of the highest turnouts in Massachusetts primary history Tuesday where more than 35 percent of people registered to vote voted. That’s partly thanks to mail-in ballots, but those mail-in ballots are causing a lot of confusion still two days later as votes are still coming in for the close 4th Congressional District race.

Poll workers spent several hours Thursday night counting untallied ballots, but say we may not have the certified results of this race until the weekend. Only then will we know the democrat on the ballot vying to take Joe Kennedy III’s vacated seat in November.

“We are very concerned that there are ballots in city and town halls that are not being counted in this election,” said Brookline select board member Jesse Mermell. “This is the first time Massachusetts has voted by mail at this scale.”

Mermell had been trailing Newton City Councilor Jake Auchincloss by just over 1,500 votes, but that number will be changing once the untallied votes come in. That includes about a thousand in Newton and Wellesley where there was a large influx of last-minute ballots Tuesday night.

And about 3,000 more in Franklin after the Secretary of State’s office says they identified eight containers of untallied mail-in ballots, one per precinct.

“3000 votes is 3000 votes,” said Policy and Communications Manager at MassVOTE Alex Psilakis. “I cannot say if I will sway the race but it is important that we get the final results. For a recount to be triggered in a race here in Massachusetts the difference between candidates needs to be .5%, I don’t know the numbers but it could push that into the .5% category and justify a recount.”

“Every vote in the Massachusetts Fourth lawfully submitted before 8 PM on Tuesday night must be counted,” Auchincloss’s said. “We are confident that our full-district campaign will be victorious when the final results are announced.”

In November, whoever wins the 4th district will face Republican Julie Hall, an Air Force veteran who defeated David Rosa on the GOP ticket Tuesday.

But while poll workers figure out this race, the bigger questions remain: is this happening anywhere else in the state, and will it happen in November?

“It means we have some work to do,” said Psilakis. “We are fortunate it’s happening in a small town like Franklin. The last thing you want to see is something like this happen in Boston or Worcester. We need to spend as much time as we can process the ballots we received We need to look over every issue with immense detail.”

“Mail-in ballots left at drop boxes, provisional and overseas ballots, we have also heard reports even this morning of ballots rejected by clerks and not counted as many of you know this is something that happened in a New York congressional race last month and has nationally been a sign of voter disenfranchisement, something we simply cannot allow to happen here in Massachusetts.”

They say the takeaways here for November is to show up with your ballot either at the polls on election day or preferably before if you are able.

If you must mail in your vote, do not wait until the last minute because as you see, even in small-town Franklin, it can lead to a lot of confusion, which is the last thing anyone needs during November’s presidential election and during a pandemic.

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This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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