MassGOP Says State Slow Vote Count Could Cost Two Candidates From Making Ballot This November

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The Massachusetts Republican Party is not happy with the way vote counting has gone in a couple of elections in the state, arguing that it may cost a couple of GOP candidates from making the ballot this November.

As of the end of the business day Tuesday, September 8, one week after the September 1 statewide primary election, there was still no word from the state on whether or not Randolph Republican Rayla Campbell received the 2,000 write-in votes she needed to earn the party’s nomination in Massachusetts’s Seventh Congressional District; if successful, she would run against U.S. Representative Ayanna Pressley (D-Dorchester), a member of The Squad.

The holdup:  the city of Boston had not certified all of its signatures yet.

Another Republican candidate, Randy Gleason of Dedham, who got more than the 150 write-in votes needed to secure the party’s nomination in a race for state representative this November, did not find out the results of his election until Friday, September 4.

Now, Gleason apparently is disqualified from earning his party’s nomination because he missed the deadline of 5 p.m. Thursday, September 3 deadline to submit a letter to Secretary of the Commonwealth Bill Galvin’s office formally accepting the nomination. That’s the case even though he didn’t know the results of the election until the day after the deadline.

“Randy was required to somehow submit a ballot nomination acceptance letter without knowing whether he had satisfied the state’s ballot nomination requirements,” MassGOP Chairman Jim Lyons said in a written statement during the late afternoon of Tuesday, September 8. “This whole process has failed him.” 

Gleason lives in the 11th Norfolk district, currently represented by state Representative Paul McMurtry (D-Dedham).

And Campbell missed the Friday, September 4 deadline to request a voting recount if the state determines she did not meet the 2,000-vote requirement — even though the results were not final yet when that deadline passed.

A spokesman for the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s office could not be immediately reached for comment Tuesday evening.

Some local town clerks and city clerks have said the vote count in the Tuesday, September 1 state primaries bogged down when they got swamped with mail-in ballots that arrived late in the day but before the 8 p.m. deadline. 

The MassGOP says that Campbell is considering challenging the process in court, noting that the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court on April 17 cut the signature-gathering requirement in half for candidates because of the coronavirus emergency, but not the vote requirement for write-in/sticker campaigns. That means a U.S. House candidate would have needed at least 1,000 certified signatures to make it onto the primary ballot, but Campbell needs at least 2,000 votes in the state primary to earn her party’s nomination.

“Because the Democrat-led state Legislature intentionally chose to ignore the pandemic’s effect on signature gathering and write-in/sticker counts, Rayla finds herself in a situation where 7th Congressional District voters may very well be presented with no choice on their ballots other than a certified radical Democrat,” Lyons said in a statement.

Lyons also said that the problems that have arisen in these races make the case against mail-in voting in the November general election.

“This whole ordeal has been a disaster for Rayla and Randy,” Lyons said in a statement. “Incredibly, Democrats still claim mail-in voting won’t result in a similar disaster in November.”

There are many instances of candidates for state representative earning their party’s nomination with a write-in campaign in the primary. However, it is less common for U.S. House candidates, because in those races the threshold is significantly higher.

The last time a U.S. House candidate won a party’s nomination with a write-in campaign in the Bay State was Silvio Conte, who represented western Massachusetts, in 1982. The incumbent Republican not only won his party’s nomination, he also received 9,258 votes in the Democratic primary as well. Records from the Clerk of the House of Representatives list Conte as a Republican and Democrat in the 1982 general election. However, Conte stuck with the Republican Party in Congress.

Notably, Republicans Steven Adam and Louise Hart also gained some traction running write-in campaigns in U.S. House primaries in Massachusetts, although neither was successful. Adam ran in the state’s First Congressional District in 2004 and Hart in the state’s Fifth Congressional District in 1982. Adam received 660 write-in votes and Hart got 1,230 votes.