Rep. Mirra Files Court Complaint, Disputes Specific Ballots That Cost Him Re-Election

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

After a recount positioned him to lose his reelection bid by a single vote, Rep. Lenny Mirra will focus his legal challenge on approximately nine ballots he believes were improperly counted and another 14 mail-in votes he alleges do not have properly matching signatures.

Mirra made his case official Wednesday, filing a complaint in Essex Superior Court that asks a judge either to declare him victorious in his north shore district or rule that the race ended in a tie and therefore requires a new special election.

Following redistricting forced by changes in population, Mirra’s district no longer includes Haverhill, Groveland, Merrimac and West Newbury.

The Georgetown Republican’s team alleged the registrars of voters in Georgetown, Ipswich and Rowley as well as town clerks in Ipswich and Rowley “made several critical errors of law” during the multi-day recount process, which flipped the originally certified result from a 10-vote victory for Mirra to a one-vote victory for Hamilton Democrat Kristin Kassner

In Georgetown, for example, Mirra alleged one ballot included a mark in the oval next to his name and no mark next to Kassner’s name, yet was counted as a blank. He challenged two ballots in Ipswich, including one where a voter “mistakenly” wrote in Donald Trump for state rep., then filled in the mark for Mirra and another where the mark in Mirra’s oval “extended ever-so-slightly into the oval for Kristin Kassner.” Both were ruled blanks, according to Mirra’s complaint.

Mirra will challenge five mail-in ballots in Rowley that he alleged had been marked “spoiled” after being rejected by a voting machine and not hand-counted. During the recount, Mirra alleged, Rowley’s registrars voted to “disregard the ‘spoiled’ determination” for those five ballots, all of which went to Kassner. He also protested another Rowley ballot for Kassner allegedly received from an overseas voter without an affidavit. Additionally, Mirra alleged in his complaint that 14 mail-in ballot envelopes in Ipswich had signatures that “drastically diverged” from voter registration cards and that his team was prohibited from similarly inspecting mail-in envelopes in Rowley.

The Governor’s Council on Dec. 14 certified the results of the 2nd Essex District recount and another recount in the 1st Middlesex District. As a result, Kassner is in line to join the Legislature—and Mirra is poised to depart after five terms—in less than two weeks. Mirra’s lawyer in the case is Michael J. Sullivan, a former state representative, Plymouth County district attorney and U.S. attorney for Massachusetts who is now a partner at Ashcroft Law Firm.

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