The 3rd Congressional District race is going to a recount. Here’s what to know.

Lori Trahan and Dan Koh. —The Boston Globe

Following the 3rd Congressional District’s highly contested Democratic primary election, Secretary of State William Galvin has ordered a recount after a petition was filed by candidate Dan Koh, who trails frontrunner Lori Trahan by less than one half of a percent.

Galvin’s office announced Monday that Koh’s campaign submitted the necessary 500 signatures by Friday’s deadline and that official certified ballot tallies indicate Trahan currently has a victory margin of 122 votes — two components that were necessary to allow for a district-wide recount.

Trahan, a former chief of staff to U.S. Rep. Marty Meehan, voiced confidence in her win last week after initial, unofficial results had her ahead by 52 votes. The campaign for Koh, a former chief of staff to Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, has said it wants to ensure every vote is counted.

This week’s certified numbers put Trahan with 18,527 votes to Koh’s 18,405, out of the 10 total candidates, according to results provided to

“My experience is that oftentimes the numbers will change,” Galvin told reporters at a press conference, The Boston Globe reports. “The result might not change, but the numbers will change.’’


Monday’s recount announcement also came coupled with news that Galvin’s office will take direct control of election offices in Lawrence and Lowell — two major hubs in the district — to “run any upcoming recounts in those cities and to oversee the administration of the Nov. 6 state election,” a press release from his office said.

Those decisions were made because of insufficient staffing levels in Lawrence and administrative errors in Lowell, according to Galvin’s office.

The winner of the Democratic primary will face Republican candidate Rick Green, of Pepperell, and independent Mike Mullen, of Maynard, in the November general election.

Here’s what to know about what’s happening in the district:

Local registrars must hold recounts by Sept. 17 

With Galvin’s order for a recount Monday, town and city registrars can begin organizing recount efforts.

Election officials must count votes by hand for all Democratic ballots — but only those cast in the Congressional race — by Monday, Sept. 17, according to a statement from Galvin’s office.

Recounts in each town and city must be posted with three days notice under state law, and the process is open for the public and candidate representatives to watch.

“The boards of registrars in each city and town will act as the judges of the recount,” the statement said. “Any challenges to the determinations made by the tellers will be heard by the registrars, who will make the final determination. The results of the recount will determine the Democratic nominee for the Third Congressional District on the Nov. 6 State Election ballot.”


The day after last week’s election, Galvin ordered ballots be locked and sealed. His office said Monday each will remain that way until the recounts starts.

“We have full confidence in Secretary of State Galvin and his office to oversee the recount process,” Trahan campaign spokeswoman Gretchen Grosky said, the Globe reports.

Galvin told reporters the recount process could reveal ballots initially counted as blanks but that can be counted as votes for a candidate on second inspection if each “shows the intent of the voter,” according to the newspaper.

Certified results indicate 3,227 blank ballots were cast.

Koh’s campaign emphasized the thin margin and vote total changes as reasons for the recount, according to the Globe.

“The latest very serious concerns raised by Secretary of State Galvin make it abundantly clear that a recount is necessary to ensure everyone knows who won the election,” Koh’s campaign said.

Galvin is appointing officials to run recounts and the Nov. 6 election in Lawrence and Lowell

Secretary of State William Galvin speaks at Monday’s press conference.

Staffing concerns in Lawrence

In a statement Monday, Galvin announced he would appoint election officials in Lawrence in light of the departure of the city’s sole experienced elections specialist “resulting in inadequate staffing ahead of the upcoming State Election.”

“A determination has been made that this matter constitutes urgent circumstances,” Galvin wrote in a letter to Lawrence officials.

Despite a feud earlier this year between Galvin and Lawrence Mayor Daniel Rivera fueled by Rivera’s endorsement of Galvin’s unsuccessful primary challenger, Josh Zakim, Rivera said he doesn’t question Galvin’s reasons for his decision.

“We’re going to bury the hatchet,” Rivera told reporters at the State House after Monday’s press conference, the Globe reports. “We knew we didn’t have [the] internal organization to get it done. We welcome it. The only person that’s going to benefit from this is the voters.”


In Lawrence, Koh, an Andover native, garnered 870 votes to Trahan’s 229, according to the certified results released this week.

Galvin alleges ‘administrative errors’ in Lowell

The statement from Galvin’s office indicated the decision to oversee recount and election procedures in Lowell was made because of “several administrative errors in the processing of ballots and tallying of state primary results.”

Galvin wrote to Lowell Director of Elections Eda Matchak on Monday and said although city officials sent unofficial election results and the number of provisional ballots to his office on election night, it was determined afterward that hand-counted results were not included and therefore the results were incomplete.

“During later efforts to obtain hand count information, it was discovered that, contrary to election law, there were ballots that were believed to have been hand-counted at the precinct, that were stored in sealed nylon bags from three different precincts separate from the other sealed voted ballots for those precincts, but no tally sheets were included for those counted ballots,” said Galvin’s letter, which was obtained by

“Additional information was provided concerning the reconciliation of the number of ballots voted as compared to the check-in and check-out lists which showed significant number of precincts did not reconcile or had missing information as required by (state law),” the letter continued.

Galvin, whose letter said that he will be investigating the Lowell Elections Department, also said based upon a review of the provisional ballot reconciliation, it appears the city counted votes on absentee ballots and those were added to totals.

“State law requires absentee ballots for state primaries be counted on primary date and ballots received after the close of polls are not eligible to be counted,” the letter said.

Lowell Mayor William Samaras, who endorsed Trahan, told the Globe he has confidence in the way the city carried out the election.

“The process might have had some issues, but with the results, nothing was compromised,” Samaras said. “I’m just confident that … the votes were counted.”

Trahan, a Lowell native, carried 3,906 votes compared to 1,002 for Koh, according to current tallies.

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