Late Ballots, Received by Deadline, Could Lead to Recount in Mirra/Kassner Rep. Race

State Rep. Leonard Mirra. (WHAV News file photograph.)

A week ago, Rep. Lenny Mirra went to bed believing he had been re-elected to his 2nd Essex District seat by 84 votes, but a recount may be in the works.

A trickle of eligible votes counted after the initial election day burst slashed the Georgetown Republican’s tight margin to a nearly microscopic one. It wasn’t clear Tuesday whether any more ballots are still outstanding, but a recount appears likely to decide whether the incumbent Republican secures a sixth term or first-time Democratic challenger Kristin Kassner flips the seat.

As WHAV reported election night, unofficial tallies showed Mirra won 11,599 votes to Hamilton Democrat Kassner’s 11,515.

On Election Night, Mirra tweeted that he led by 83 votes with all precincts reporting and is “excited to get back to work” on Beacon Hill.

“We’re closing the gap if we have not already closed the gap,” Kassner, who did not say definitively if she would seek a recount, told State House News Service Tuesday afternoon.

Mirra found himself trying to secure the votes of a largely new constituency under the new political map lawmakers approved. The current north shore district he represents covers Georgetown, Groveland, Merrimac, Newbury, West Newbury and parts of Haverhill and Boxford. The updated version for the next decade tilts further southward across Georgetown, Hamilton, Ipswich, Newbury, Rowley and part of Topsfield.

Recounts, where elections workers tally ballots by hand in public, can only take place in Massachusetts contests if a candidate requests one by securing sufficient voter signatures on a petition. To secure a district-wide recount, the margin must be within one half of one percentage point of the votes cast—a requirement the 2nd Essex races would meet—while no such margin limit exists for recounts of individual precincts.

Candidates must submit district-wide recount petitions with Secretary of State William F. Galvin’s office by 5 p.m., Friday.

Last week marked the first general election in Massachusetts with a permanent law in place allowing widespread voting by mail and expanded early voting after both options proved popular and successful on a temporary basis earlier in the COVID-19 pandemic.

Under the law, any ballot postmarked inside the United States by Election Day counts as long as a local election official received it by 5 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 12. Ballots for overseas voters can arrive up until 5 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 18 and remain valid.

Mirra is also hoping to avoid becoming the only incumbent representative or senator to lose a reelection bid in Tuesday’s general election. A single lawmaker, Rep. Marcos Devers of Lawrence, lost to a primary challenger in September.

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