January 19th, 2010
05:46 PM ET
4 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. SneakyPete

    Interesting to think how Minnesota's senate election went too.

    January 19, 2010 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  2. Willy Brown

    I love watching the liberals go down. They make the real democrats look bad.

    January 19, 2010 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  3. Independent

    A vote for Republican = A block vote for Progress. Nothing will get done in DC. NOTHING!!! In the end, this benefits absolutely nobody. All we will get is a bunch of political fighting for power.

    January 19, 2010 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  4. Laura, Boston

    How come Teddy Kennedy was able to be sworn in 1 day after he was elected.

    Also, Rep Tsongas was sworn in within 2 days.

    So this is total nonsense to have it be decided by the Senate when the people in MA have decided as of 8 pm on 1/19/2010 which candidate will be the next Jr. senator from MA.

    Tell me, if Coakley pulls it off (highly doubtful) when will she be sworn in.

    January 19, 2010 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  5. Minnesota gal

    Coleman and the republicans held up Franken's being seated for 6 months. They ordered recount and recount and went here and there trying to find ballots they wanted. They filed lawsuits. So now they want Brown to be seated immediately if HE wins. Typical bunch of republican buttholes. So they say they can hold up seating a Democrat but they want their guy seated immediately. Maybe the democrats should file lawsuit after lawsuit against brown IF he wins. Make it as miserable for him as the republicans did for Franken. At least Franken was gracious and not the absolute piece of crappy butthole that Brown is.

    January 19, 2010 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  6. George Guadiane - Austerlitz, NY

    If the information is true, Republicans are willing to cheat to win.
    IF THAT IS TRUE then why would they complain if Democrats manipulate the system to get health care reform passed? OH, I know, because they are "always right." WRONG

    January 19, 2010 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  7. HK Grobler

    Americans didn't bargain on this when they voted in euphoria for the Democrats just a year ago, did you now? This is what happens when you vote against Republicans, this is what you get for putting Dem's in office, Please don't make the same mistake in 2012!

    January 19, 2010 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  8. Bill Gray

    Let's see how much the Dems like democracy when results are not to their liking.

    January 19, 2010 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  9. Jeremy

    I do not believe that he will get his seat if he wins until health care is passed. I do not believe that the progressive democrats will allow their precious 60 seat majority to go to waste. I believe that they will refuse to seat him, citing unfair balloting and recounts, until health care reform is passed and signed by the President. This is corrupt and unfair politics and will show just how desperate the progressive democrats are to get their agenda passed. I hope that Brown wins, but in my mind I think he will be too late to stop the runaway train that is health care. November cannot come soon enough so we can vote some of these radical progressives out of office and get people who actually care about this country and everything it is about, including the Constitution, instead of rewriting history and the laws of this great nation.

    January 19, 2010 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  10. Jimh

    I should not be so surprisd by this. I should have expected it. The Dems control who gets seated and when? This is a horror story come to life as another poster already stated. It is time to clear out Washington and all career politicians. It is also time to recind all retirements and health care for these elected officials. Let them buy their own health insurance like we all do. Term Limits!! Must be enacted. We need fresh blood in Washington that can bring US, the American People representation in Washington!

    January 19, 2010 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  11. FL

    we are watching demOCRAPs. always changing the rules to better your side. You have threatened our way of life sense dumboma took office. I think the american people are done with this hope and change crap and want our rights and jobs back.

    January 19, 2010 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  12. Luke Wallis

    Hahaha! I love it. For once the "weaker party" is getting gutsy and playing to win and telling the other party to sit down and shut up because they had their turn. It's like the twilight zone.

    January 19, 2010 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  13. Checkmate!

    Checkmate Republicans...Regardless if MC Scotty B wins healthcare will still pass. They will definitely pull a Republican and slow walk the process through and pass HCR. Checkmate. hahahahaha

    January 19, 2010 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  14. Mike Pecsi

    What can Brown do for you???

    January 19, 2010 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  15. Ken

    This seems just in keeping with how the Republicans ran things for 8 years.

    January 19, 2010 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  16. IsCheneyInJailYet

    It took six months to seat Al Franken, so the GOP should be happy with anything less than that.

    January 19, 2010 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  17. Howard

    Should Scott Brown win and the Senate delay seating him until they pass this healthcare bill, I think that will be the last straw for the American people. Between the Blatent bribe of Sen Nelson for his vote, and the seating of Obama's replacement in the Senate after it was proven he had bribed the x Governor of Illinois in order to get the position. The slogan for the mid-term elections will be "THROW THE BUMS OUT!!!

    January 19, 2010 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  18. jimtx

    Hey guys, the change has already begun....Dems hold on to your hats... as you LEAVE the building...lol. We do not want all this hog wash Hussein is offering or trying to stuff down our throats.

    January 19, 2010 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  19. AZdude

    Well, kyle and the other libs here seem to have no morals at all. They seem to think it's ok to cheat, as long as they win. kyle, republicans have a smuch right to live and vote and exist as your do. Maybe you need to do some thinking about people and life. It doesn't look like you've done much thinking at all.

    January 19, 2010 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  20. msav

    Just when i thought all hope was gone, the people with common sense are showing up at the polls again. Go Sen. Brown.

    January 19, 2010 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  21. Glen

    Regardless of who the winner is, the US senate must adhere to the will of the people. While I'm not from the US (Canadian), I often considered by political views to line up with the Democratic party...not so much these days though. Not that the gov't here in Canada is much better. Elected officials tend to forget that they can be replaced.

    January 19, 2010 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  22. GreginVT

    Ok everyone, take a deep breath, and let's remember: we're all Americans. We're on the same side. And we live in a democracy. Whoever wins, wins. And we take it from there. Please, for the love of God, turn down the screeching.

    January 19, 2010 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  23. Connie

    Wow, so since the Dems control everything in Massachusetts, they will even get to decide when the winner is seated? Gee, if it is Mr. Brown I wonder if they will wait to seat him until it is too late for him to vote against Obamacare? My guess is also that Ms. Coakley would be seated immediately. If this was a Republican Secretary of State proclaiming this the liberal media would have it as "Breaking News" and be crying for the person to step down. Funny how the constitution and sucession laws have no bearing if it means the Dems don't get to ram Obamacare down our throats. Unbelievable double standard.

    January 19, 2010 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  24. OhioPrexie

    This country cannot afford a Democrat victory in Mass. Hey Dems- How's the "Change" workin for yoa now? A national debt that will bankrupt this country for generations. I hope all you members of the Democratic Socialist Party of America choke on your liberalism.

    January 19, 2010 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  25. win

    The Constitution decides the qualifications for a US Senator, the State has elections officials has the responsiblity of making sure the candidate is qualified before the election, before the ballots.

    The Senator is a Senator and starts getting paid as a Senator the day after the election.

    The Senate decides the procedures to seat the new Senator, not the qualifications.

    After all, parties would only limit the qualifications to only those that fit their party views.

    January 19, 2010 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
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