January 19th, 2010
05:46 PM ET
8 years ago

Galvin: Decision to seat MA winner ultimately rests with Senate

(CNN) - Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin, a Democrat, told CNN Tuesday that the decision to seat the winner of his state's closely watched special election ultimately rests with the United States Senate.

"The United States Senate is the judge of the qualifications of its own members," Galvin told CNN's Rick Sanchez. "In other words, they get to decide who is seated and when. "

Sen. Paul Kirk, who was appointed by the state's governor to be the interim replacement for the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, will serve until the Senate decides to swear in either Martha Coakley, a Democrat, or Scott Brown, a Republican.

"Senator Kirk will serve until his successor has qualified, that means sworn in," Galvin said.

Though the ultimate decision rests with the Senate, Galvin also said Tuesday that if the results of Tuesday's voting are decisive, he will announce those unofficial results as soon as he can.

"A decisive result would be one that would be beyond the margin for a recount, which would be one half of one percent," Gavin said. "I would also want to make sure that it was outside the margin of uncounted absentee ballots."

Galvin said he is obligated under federal law to make sure that overseas absentee ballots from U.S. service members are counted. "If they could affect the outcome, then you could not issue such a letter" declaring a winner based on unofficial results, he said. Federal law requires 10 days after election day to wait for overseas absentee ballots, Galvin explained.

If the results are not decisive, then Galvin said a recount was possible. In the event of a close result, he said, "we have to make sure that every ballot that has been submitted is counted. That is to say the overseas absentees. It also opens opportunity for one of the candidates or both of them perhaps to request a formal recount."

Galvin added that if a recount does occur, a hand count of the paper ballots would be possible.

"If the result is not decisive, then it's important that . . . the result is accurate and complete," he said. "And I'm committed to seeing that it's accurate and complete. We do not rush to judgment in Massachusetts at the expense of voters' rights. We regard the voters' rights as the highest rights."

"Whatever the voters' decision, it will be honored," he said. "It's my job to see that decision is given effect."

Filed under: Martha Coakley • Massachusetts • Scott Brown
soundoff (94 Responses)
  1. Kyle, Virginia

    Keep Republicans OUT of DC!

    January 19, 2010 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  2. ObamasRecordDefict

    We've already seen video accounts of voter fraud for the DUMocRATS. A woman handing out blank absentee ballots with COAKLEY's name checked.

    The unions in MASS are hard at work, cheating that is.

    January 19, 2010 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  3. demmie

    "The United States Senate is the judge of the qualifications of its own members" – Really? Your true colors are shining though. I thought THE PEOPLE decided . . .

    January 19, 2010 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  4. wake up

    america can't put up with partisan dems and repubs who take it this far. this scumbag liberal from mass. should be in prison if he doesn't seat Brown immediately.

    January 19, 2010 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  5. Minnesotan

    @ObamasRecordDefict January 19th, 2010 5:50 pm ET
    We've already seen video accounts of voter fraud for the DUMocRATS. A woman handing out blank absentee ballots with COAKLEY's name checked.
    Dude, that's so unusual seeing as how there are now reports of the exact same thing happening only the other way around. Only its some sort of glitch where Brown's name is already shaded in on the pre-printed ballot. Must be a liberal conspiracy to make it look like a GOP conspiracy huh?

    January 19, 2010 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  6. Democrats Are Too Comfortable - Fire Someone

    The Democrats need to MAN UP and vote on the bill NOW.

    LBJ .... he of the Voting Rights Billl, the Civil Rights Bill, Medicare .... would not lose a Congressional Voting advantage just because the Republicans wanted him to wait for them to get on the field before he runs his play.

    Time for HARDBALL ... Republicans you are out of luck.

    January 19, 2010 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  7. southerncousin

    If this stuff was in a novel, it would be a horror story and a best seller. If anyone thinks the US Senate is the best judge of its members qualifications, how did Barbara Boxer get seated, or Charlie Schumer?

    January 19, 2010 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  8. Jeff from Chicago

    How far will the democrats go to get their way?

    First they change the laws so they can seat a democrat, now when a republican wins, (assuming the people are smart), they might decide not to seat them until they want to?

    Are you watching this people????

    Are you watching your democracy slip away?

    January 19, 2010 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  9. Sk

    I can't wait till Brown wins. You progressive socialist nutcases are about to learn the hard way that Amercia is a center right country. Go cry me a river you clowns and stay away from my income.

    January 19, 2010 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  10. nan coll

    Please advise me if I do not have all the facts. I just read tht for many years both the House and Senate exercised the power to refuse to seat a duly elected candidate.

    But in 1969 in Powell v McCormack the Supreme Court ruled that Congress could not , by majority vote, refuse membership to a candidate who met the qualifications for office as set forth in the Constitution. As regard the fact that Adam Clayton Powell, Jr had misused federal funds the appropriate course of action is expulsion which required a 2/3 vote.

    I believe it would be unconstitutional under these circumstances to refuse to seat Brown.

    Of course we have a President who claims to be a Constitutional scholar but believes he can change the Constitution and publicly stated so when campaigning.

    Nan C

    January 19, 2010 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  11. dw, california

    Republicans wrote the playbook on how to handle seating a new senator. See: Al Franken.

    If Democrats delay, Republicans only have their own tactics to blame.

    January 19, 2010 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  12. Mike in MN

    If Brown wins, any move(s) by the Dems to stall his swearing in and seating in the Senate will be seen as obstructing the will of the people. It would serve to only increase the negative backlash already being directed towards the Democrats. It would be one more nail in the Democrats 2010 and 2012 coffins.

    January 19, 2010 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  13. Party Purity will never bring Political Power!

    Remember the 8 months that cons spent stonewalling and trying to keep the Dem from the Senate seat he won in MN?.

    Expect at least an 8 month stonewalling effort from the Dems if Brown wins.

    After all, they are just using the con playbook on how to "obstruct"!

    January 19, 2010 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  14. Michael

    So what he is saying is that if Brown wins there will be 10 days plus however long it takes to manually check each vote for the Democrats in the senate to rush the healthcare bill through by a margin of one vote.

    January 19, 2010 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  15. phoenix86

    This process really illustrates just how corrupt the democrats really are. Unbelievable! I will never vote for a democrat in any election whatsoever. Truely vile creatures they really are.

    January 19, 2010 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  16. terry,va

    Galvin will cause a firestorm that will cause all dumbocraps to lose in November if he decides to stall Brown to take his place in the Senate. The heath care bill is a farce. The people know it. It ruins the coverage of 85% of the people and increases taxes. Just give the coverage to those that can't work and not those that are to sorry to work. We don't need another socialist program. If Obummie wants to spread the wealth, then he needs to move out of this country. We believe that hard work equals pay off and the American dream and not sitting around and getting handouts..

    January 19, 2010 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  17. casb in colorado

    Yes, the American poeple are watching. If the Dumbocrats are feeling the resentment now, just wait until they try dirty politics by not seating Scott Brown. Real America is fed up! Are you listening WashingtonDC?

    January 19, 2010 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  18. ObamasRecordDefict

    This HC plan is a joke, and it is reflective in the polls nationwide.

    Go back and pass something that an overwhelming majority (of DEMS and REPUBS) can sign onto:

    Allow insurance companies to compete across state lines.
    Tort Reform
    No special deals for Union workers (This is illegal anyhow)

    January 19, 2010 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  19. NSR

    Why is everybody so concerned with Republicans. The Blue have had a decisive majority since the last election – and golly, look at all they've accomplished, UNOPPOSED.

    Well, unopposed by anyone except the American People. 😉

    January 19, 2010 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  20. Huh?

    You mean THAT Democrat Senate - the one controlled by slimy Harry Weed? You mean THAT Democrat Senate - that shows its "sterling" character by bribing fellow Senators to garner votes?

    Yup - THAT's the one!

    January 19, 2010 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  21. Four and The Door

    Is the United Nations going to have to send in a team to oversee this election like they would in a third world country?!?!? Is that what Washington DC has become in the last 12 months? Don't bring shame on the way we govern our country.

    January 19, 2010 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  22. Gerry NH

    You don't need to keep the Republicans out of DC. If Scott Brown or any republican, democrat or libertarian win the election they have every right to be in DC. I hope Brown wins and maybe we can get some of these democrat congress people voted out of DC.

    January 19, 2010 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  23. Ms S Callahan

    Uh oh! If Brown wins and the powers to be fail to seat him in a 'very reasonable' time frame I think you may see the start of a 2010 revolution........ seriously, the irr of citiznes is truly underestimated...this is kitchen table fodder and everyone is watching how this plays out.

    January 19, 2010 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  24. Chris

    I am still waiting to watch this all go down on C-Span, Mr President. Where is the transparency that you derided Bush for not having during the campaign? Why, all of a sudden, is a taxation on existing health insurance part of teh deal when you scoffed and chided McCain about it during the campaign?

    I hear that Coakley is already crying foul even though results aren't in. It is interesting that she will claim voter fraud in an election for the Senate seat that was once held my President Kennedy, who pulled off the biggest voter fraud during the 1960 Presidential election.

    Show your true colors, progressives and liberal dems...all of America is watching.

    January 19, 2010 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  25. Michael

    Keep Republicans OUT of DC!

    .......by revoking voters rights, having the deceased vote, paying homeless vote etc etc

    We the people right Kyle!

    January 19, 2010 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
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