Massachusetts court rules against extra time to count votes

August 26, 2020 GMT

BOSTON (AP) — Massachusetts highest court ruled Wednesday against granting additional time to count mail-in ballots in the state’s Sept. 1 primary election despite ongoing worries about the coronavirus and concerns about U.S. Postal Service delays.

The case was brought by Becky Grossman, a candidate in the Democratic primary for the 4th congressional district seat being vacated by U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy lll, who is challenging incumbent U.S. Sen. Edward Markey in the Democratic senate primary.

Grossman had argued that the deadline for counting state primary ballots should be extending by ten days after the Sept. 1 election, provided that the ballots are postmarked by Sept. 1.


Under current state law, mail ballots must arrive at local election offices by Sept. 1 to be counted, regardless of when they are postmarked.

Grossman said she was glad she brought the lawsuit.

“I still believe every ballot postmarked by Sept. 1st should be counted,” she said Wednesday in a statement. “And I believe we all must work together to stop Donald Trump’s sabotage of the post office from undermining our elections.”

Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin opposed the lawsuit.

An attorney representing Galvin’s office argued that the added 10 days would prevent the state from complying with federal laws requiring ballots be sent to military and overseas voters by Sept. 19.

The change would also significantly interfere with opportunities for voter participation in the general election, according to Galvin’s office.

Galvin said he welcomed the ruling.

“This will allow my office to begin preparing November ballots immediately after the primary results are in, so that voters will have plenty of time to receive and return their ballots before Election Day,” he said in a written statement Wednesday.

The court concluded that the existing Sept. 1 deadline is constitutional, noting that changes in the state’s voting laws adopted this year due to concerns about the coronavirus have expanded voting options rather than limiting them.

“The new law does not significantly interfere with the constitutional right to vote in the September 1 primary election,” the court wrote in their opinion. “Rather, the legislation enhances the right to vote in the primary, as well as the general, election, by providing multiple means of voting, including options to vote by mail that previously never existed.”

At least 1 million registered voters in Massachusetts requested mail-in ballots this year. Wednesday is the final day to request a mail-in ballot.


Galvin has expressed concerns about mail-in ballots arriving to election officials on time.

Galvin last week encouraged voters to hand deliver their mail-in ballots if they can instead of dropping them in the mail.

Galvin, a Democrat, said that’s the best way to guarantee that a ballot will arrive in time.

Ballots can be dropped off at local election offices or at early voting locations around the state, according to Galvin. They can also be placed in local voting drop boxes.

Voters can find early voting locations and ballot drop boxes in their communities by going to Galvin’s website.

Early voting continues through Friday. Primary day is Sept. 1.