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Thousands Of Mail-In Ballots In Franklin Not Counted On Election Day

Election workers and staffers from the Secretary of State's office continue to count votes in Franklin, where roughly 3,000 uncounted ballots were discovered two days after Tuesday's primary. (Simón Rios/WBUR)
Election workers and staffers from the Secretary of State's office continue to count votes in Franklin, where roughly 3,000 uncounted ballots were discovered two days after Tuesday's primary. (Simón Rios/WBUR)

Staffers from Secretary of State Bill Galvin's office have found roughly 3,000 uncounted ballots in Franklin, according to an office spokesperson.

All of the ballots in question are believed to have been submitted by mail, according to Galvin’s office. The spokesperson said these ballots were supposed to have been sent to polling places on Election Day, though it appears they were never sent.

The workers sent to the town had expected to find about 600 uncounted ballots, according to the spokesperson.

The results in Franklin may play a critical role in the 4th Congressional District primary, where, with 96% of precincts counted, Jake Auchincloss is ahead of Jesse Mermell by less than 1,400 votes

By 8 p.m. Thursday, about 30 poll workers sat at folding tables, counting blocks of ballots. Members of Franklin’s Town Council declined to speak to WBUR, directing requests for comment to Galvin’s office.

“I don’t think there was any ill will or ill intention in missing these ballots, I think folks were just a little overwhelmed with everything that’s going on,” said Alex Psilakis, policy and communications manager at the nonpartisan advocacy group MassVOTE, who came to Franklin High School to observe the vote tabulation.

Pilskas said Franklin's experience can offer the state can learn some lessons for the November election.

“It means we’ve got some work to do," he said. "We’re fortunate that this has happened in a small town like Franklin—the last thing we want to see is something like this happen in Boston or Worcester.”

Galvin's office hopes to get results from Franklin Thursday evening, though with fewer than two dozen poll workers counting the ballots by hand, it’s unclear whether results will be released Thursday, the spokesperson said.

This article was originally published on September 03, 2020.

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Simón Ríos is an award-winning bilingual reporter in WBUR's newsroom.

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