Jake Auchincloss has won the 4th Congressional District Democratic primary after his lead over Jesse Mermell in a tight race was expanded by several hundred previously uncounted ballots in Franklin.
Staffers from Secretary of State Bill Galvin's office found roughly 3,000 uncounted ballots in the town's vaults Thursday, according to an office spokesperson, where they had expected to find just around 600 instead.
After receiving a court order allowing municipalities to count the ballots two days after election night, officials in Franklin gathered Thursday under the supervision of the Secretary of State to hand count the ballots.
The affair spilled over into the early morning hours Friday, as results allowed for some closure in the race to replace Congressman Joe Kennedy III, who opted not to seek reelection so he could lodge a challenge to Sen. Ed Markey. Markey was reelected Tuesday.
"I’m honored that the people of the Massachusetts Fourth District have chosen me as the Democratic nominee for Congress," Auchincloss tweeted early Friday. "We won 25 of the 34 cities and towns across the district, a testament to the strong, full-district campaign we built."
Mermell conceded and congratulated Auchincloss on Friday afternoon in a video posted to YouTube.
She said she will not be filing for a recount, but still holds concerns about how long the final vote count took, and what it means for the general election.
"I hope my opponents in this race, the clerks, Secretary Galvin, legislative leaders and the governor will see that there are some strong signals here that despite everyone's best efforts, we might not be ready for November," Mermell said in the video, "and the clerks in particular need our support."
Here are the results of the Democratic primary for the 4th Congressional District. (To see how your town or city voted, click here.)
In Franklin, 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.
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.
Psilakis said Franklin's experience can offer the state 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.”
This article was originally published on September 04, 2020.
This segment aired on September 4, 2020.