Secretary of State Bill Galvin has ordered a hand recount in the too-close-to-call Democratic primary for Massachusetts' 3rd Congressional District — a district that houses two election offices Galvin also said the state will take over.
On Friday, Andover Democrat Daniel Koh, the second-place finisher in the crowded 10-way Democratic primary, petitioned the state for an official recount to determine if he or Lori Trahan won. Numbers from The Associated Press last week showed Trahan, of Westford, beat Koh by 52 votes, and, in anticipation of a recount, Galvin had ordered the ballots impounded last Wednesday.
As of Monday, Galvin's office said in a statement that its certified results ahead of the recount show Trahan up by 122 votes over Koh, with 18,527 votes to his 18,405 votes. The difference, the statement said, is less than half of 1 percent, allowing Galvin to trigger the districtwide recount.
In part to "expedite a result" in the primary race, the state is seizing control of election offices in Lowell and Lawrence, Galvin told WBUR.
In Lowell's case, Galvin's office said in a statement that there were administrative errors in the processing of primary ballots and tallying of results there in last week's primary.
In Lawrence, there were no primary day ballot issues. However, the statement said Galvin believed staffing for the November election there would be "inadequate" due to the "imminent departure of the city's only experienced elections specialist."
Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera told WBUR he is happy Galvin is involved.
"The secretary is showing incredible leadership in a really tough situation where the votes are that small," Rivera said. "That they are providing resources to communities like mine is 100 percent welcomed."
Election officials are discussing the recount process with the same law office that did the recount in Rivera's 2013 mayoral election.
"Having gone through this process, it's incredibly painstaking," Rivera said. "The board of registrars are going to look at every ballot that gets questioned."
By law, the boards of registrars for each municipality in the district must set a date to recount all of their Democratic primary ballots and let candidates know when and where they are happening with at least three days' notice. All of those recounts need to happen by Sept. 17. Members of the public, including campaign representatives, are allowed to observe and challenge decisions made during the hand recount.
The ultimate winner of the 3rd district Democratic primary will face Republican nominee Rick Green and unenrolled candidate Michael Mullen in November to fill the seat being vacated by retiring U.S. Rep. Niki Tsongas.
"Our objective is to get the ballot printed for November," Galvin said in a phone interview Monday. "That's extremely important. The election is eight weeks from tomorrow."
Galvin's office is also set to release the final voter turnout numbers for the statewide primary Monday afternoon.
With reporting from WBUR's Jon Cain and Jim Foley