January 19th, 2010
05:46 PM ET
12 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. Alan

    "And we will keep counting until the right woman wins!"

    January 19, 2010 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  2. Leximou

    Galvin needs to go! The VOTERS decide!

    January 19, 2010 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  3. Kevin from Warren

    Brown is going to win, and he'll tackle Obama's health care plan by breaking the 60-member proof filibuster that Obama had counted on. Obama will go down as a loser president who put all his eggs into one basket for health care, and lost that.

    January 19, 2010 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  4. nick

    You want to talk about democracy slipping away? How about a Senate minority being able to completely block legislation? Isn't a democracy where the majority rule?

    January 19, 2010 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  5. Marine

    there is absolutely no need to go attacking anyone. the republican party has not been the most shining example of clean elections with all the election fraud that happened in the last decade. state senator brown is charismatic but in no way qualified to be a us senator, whereas Attorney general martha coakley has much experience in public service, on a higher level, regardless of how each comes off on TV.

    January 19, 2010 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  6. Ohio D

    Even as a Dem, I was soured on this race when I learned that GM sent 6 bus loads of union workers to Mass to help "get out the vote" for a week. That is a government run and funded company. They should not be paying people, yes fully paying them and busing them, to work in an election on yours and my tax dollars...

    January 19, 2010 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  7. Rick

    I just wish old chappy was alive to see this! This is great !!!

    January 19, 2010 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  8. Bull

    So if I hear Gavin correctly, the Democrats will do everything they can to disenfranchise the voters of Mass. Just so they can push their socialist agenda down our throats.

    A true sign of their despotism. May be they should read the 17th amendment. Senators are selected by the voters, not the Senate.

    Nothing but Bull.

    January 19, 2010 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  9. Texas Liberal

    So much for ending insurance-company abuses. The Reepubs seem to think things are working just fine, with profit-driven insurance companies deciding whether to refuse necessary treatments, drop people, not cover people with preexisting condition, ad nauseum (literally).

    January 19, 2010 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  10. Mike, Huntington Beach

    GO Scott Brown. It's time to take back America, Land of the FREE. Even in the stronghold of Democratic ideals like Massachusetts people are seeing that we need a change. I am hoping for a change. A change we can all be proud of, a change that Scott Brown will bring to the Senate seat and advancing the causes of true Americans everywhere.

    GOD BLESS AMERICA & Pray for the people of Haiti

    January 19, 2010 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  11. Not gonna get posted again

    I think we are getting close to revolution if the Democratic party manipulates the rules in this manner. I can't believe that someone would even consider going against what the people want in such a blatant way.
    Democrats in Congress....Hear OUR voice.....don't push the HCR bill through.
    Fix it, and HONOR the checks and balances our forefathers had the good sense to see the need of.

    January 19, 2010 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  12. ted salladore

    Democrats MUST move on and press ahead.
    Don't cower under Republ1can bluff!

    January 19, 2010 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  13. Leon

    Don't you people get it? It's not about the American people it's about Republicans and Democrats they don't care about us at all; if they did there wouldn't be so much division in Washington! It's about who has the most seats, which party is commander-n-chief, which party has the most Presidents and so on and so on....Neither party wants to pass a bill based on what Americans want they just pass bills so their party can look good, look like they're doing something. It's all about who is the heavyweight!

    January 19, 2010 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  14. win

    The Constitution decides the qualifications for a US Senate member, not the Senate. The state elections officers is responsible for checking the qualififications prior to putting the candidate on the ballot.

    The Senate seats the member upon a certificiation of the vote according to the Senate procedures.

    However, the current Senator is not longer the Senator after election day, until the new Senator is seated.

    Massachusetts law says that an appointed senator remains in office “until election and qualification of the person duly elected to fill the vacancy.

    That means that Kirk cannot legally vote after the election. Until the new Senator is seated, the seat is vacant.

    January 19, 2010 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  15. revolution

    Time to start over, clean house, get rid of both parties, all these foolish goverment agencies, special interests, start over with the constitution and not this so called democracy that has become a twisted form of economically irresponsible socialism. Need to return to a democracy for the people.

    January 19, 2010 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  16. Bmax

    Refusing to seat Brown will be the final nail necessary to seal shut the coffin on these people who have controlled all of congress and the White House for a year now.

    With the trillions spent in one year, America has awakened to the fact that we can not afford three more years. Because there is not a presidential election by which we can clean house to stop it at once, we will begin the sweeping now in 2010 with the house and senate.

    In the euphoria of the Obama candidacy, most of America was swept up in an emotional tide. Now the true gut feeling is settling in upon those who followed the Pied Piper as the cliff looms ahead.

    January 19, 2010 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  17. Tony

    This is a good day for the GOP. Even Kennedy is not immune to the far left agenda of Obama. Hopefully the GOP will win more in 2010 and 2012.

    January 19, 2010 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  18. henry


    1. Republican declared winner in Mass.

    2. Senate delays his seating for as long as needed.

    3. If the health care passes (or even if it doesn't), the Democrats will NOT want to lose the "sacred 60". They'll scour the Republican ranks to find someone who is willing to sell their soul to change parties. Or they'll find the weakest member, release the dirt, and have them kicked out.

    Either way, the Dems will regain their 60th BEFORE the mid-terms.

    January 19, 2010 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  19. benton

    Don't be surprised if Coakley pulls ahead and wins the election. Has anyone forgotten ACORN during the Obama election?

    January 19, 2010 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
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