January 19th, 2010
05:46 PM ET
5 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. D Swansonj

    I think enough voters have seen the Kennedy & Dem recount votes for enough years now is the time to put a stop to it and have a HONEST election.

    January 19, 2010 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  2. Mark S

    The balance of power is way too lopsided. No political party should have that much power.

    January 19, 2010 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  3. Not Amused

    I'm glad I don't reside in Massachusetts this special election is a nightmare with the race between the Devil You Know (Coakley) and the Devil You Don't know (Brown). I hope the Massachusetts voters are smart enough to go with the Devil They Know (Coakley) and avoid shooting themselves in the foot by electing that sleasy republican used car salesman (Brown) trust me he's BAD NEWS in the making for that state. I think the state & the nation could be in for a "MAJOR" shock because the independent candidate Kennedy could get at least double if not triple the votes he has been predicted to get as a sign of revolt against the Dems & the Repubs which would strip Brown of the necessary votes he needs to win.

    January 19, 2010 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  4. Debbie

    That's just silly to think Republicans wouldn't seat a Democrat right away either. Grow up!

    January 19, 2010 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  5. History Teacher, VA

    More Americans need to start reading the Constitution... the Senate does have the right to seat or not seat members. Originally, state legislatures appointed senators, but the 17th Amendment shifted that power to the people... however, the Senate still has the right to qualify the people's elected senator. It's all in the Constitution.

    On a side note, I find it highly ironic how much conservatives are using the word "people's" when historically, it is a communist/socialist term.

    January 19, 2010 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  6. Chris Boston, MA

    Why don't the Democrats rewrite the entire Constitution over the remaining three years to serve their political agendas.. Better idea, try rewriting that joke of a health reform bill.

    January 19, 2010 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  7. Keith in Austin

    Any Democrat denial of the will of the American majority not to pass this idiotic bill will spell a loud and prompt implosion of the Democrat Party shortly thereafter.

    January 19, 2010 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  8. typical white person

    Nikki Tsongas was sworn in 3 days after the election to fill her husbands seat. Lets see how fast Galvin moves for this election. Remember it's not the person who cast the vote who counts, it's the person who counts the votes that were cast that can change the election. Beware of the union thugs !!!!!

    January 19, 2010 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  9. Kathleen

    I am just wondering how far Dems will go to get their way, not the way of the people, but their own selfish and self-centered way. When will America wake up!

    January 19, 2010 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  10. tw

    Lets hope the results push Brown over the threshold of any recount. We would not want to see the Slimyocrats get their hands on the ballots and reshape history again like the Acorn ballots did.
    Kyle of Va we need more Republicans in DC to balance the Government, it is NO good for one side to have an unvoidable majority. Corruption occurs.

    January 19, 2010 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  11. Anonymous

    I love to see a democrat win the election in my state because it is a Democratic state and it should not be given to any repbulican. Then people should know that when it comes to fight for the middle class in United State the Democrat came first and people should realized that this election is not for republican but for democratic.

    January 19, 2010 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  12. ib

    If Brown wins this sounds like another trick by the democrats to delay Brown taking the peoples seat back to the people.

    January 19, 2010 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  13. unemployed by Obama

    i hear coakley is cheating already, sounds like an osamabama supporter

    January 19, 2010 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  14. BigVin

    Wow, the Democrapic revolution lasted just about a year. 10 months to the midterm and hopefully we can get some more Socialists out of the Congress and Senate. Might even force our illustrious president, Jimmy Carter Jr., to actually be BIPARTISAN.

    January 19, 2010 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  15. The People's Seat

    The people will keep it warm until Sen. Brown gets sworn in.

    January 19, 2010 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  16. Ridgeway

    Oh, so another sleazy lib chimes in. We pulled this crap with Al Franken so maybe we can get away with it here. How crooked can these creeps get? He even looks like a creep.
    They pulled the same stunt with the Atlanta mayorial race. White woman wins the election but of course not by enough so they manipulate the system and get another illiterate unqualified guy just because he's black. The guy can barely put two words together to make a sentence. Carpet bagger.

    January 19, 2010 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  17. John D.

    This would be typical loser Democrat tactics. If Coakley wins it will be because of VOTER FRAUD.

    America demands that if Brown wins he is seated immediately.

    January 19, 2010 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  18. J.C. - Independent 4 Public Option

    I hope this race won't be as long as Coleman vs. Franken in MN. No matter who wins, it has to be fair and square.

    January 19, 2010 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  19. Future expat

    The GOP will be the death of America.

    January 19, 2010 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  20. Reid and Democratic Senate could make fatal mistake

    If the Scott Brown wins Kennedy's seat and the Democratic Senate delays in seating him, the country will revolt against Obama and the Senate and the House and Democrats will be in the minority in all three branches of government and Obama will become a lame duck by the mid term elections in November It would be political suicide for the Democrats to act so recklessly. The country would not stand for it, and Obama's legacy would be one of destroying the country, corrupting the politicap process, and pitting red state against blue state. As the first black president, he would down in history as a destroyer and corrupt and reckless president –hardly something to aspire to. It is time for the Democrats to play by the rules. and it is time for pelosi and reid to retire

    January 19, 2010 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  21. Papa Goose

    Gee. I hope the same thing doesn't happen that happened in Minnesota. The repubs were so straight forward in seating the winner. Right away, I think. Well, within the first 6 months.

    January 19, 2010 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  22. Fed Up

    I can just see Pelosi saying that he is not "qualified" for the Senate. I can almost guarantee the populist uprising would be like nothing ever seen in the US. He should show up tomorrow, if he wins, and take his seat;.

    January 19, 2010 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  23. Mike, formerly from Syracuse

    Exit polls are saying Brown is up by 10 points. The liberal elite had better seat him tomorrow if this is as big a blowout as it seems. They already cheated once by changing the law to appoint Kirk while waiting for the special election. Just try to cheat, and see the wrath of the American people. The Second American Revolution has begun! Take back our country!

    January 19, 2010 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  24. Debby

    Galvin is an idiot plain and simple if someone wins they win. What a tool.

    January 19, 2010 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  25. Marty

    WWLP in Springfield, MA has just reported that pre-marked Scott Brown ballots were discovered at polling stations in Cambridge and Brighton

    January 19, 2010 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
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