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Last fall's one-vote election shows need for easier way to get a recount, councilor says

City Councilor Ed Flynn (South Boston, South End, Chinatown, Downtown) wants to look at automatic recounts of close municipal elections, following last year's at-large race, in which Julia Mejia won the fourth at-large seat by just one vote.

Currently, city rules require candidates seeking a recount to go through a cumbersome process - they have to collect 50 valid signatures in each of the wards they want a recount for - and within ten days of seeking a recount - which for an at-large candidate means 50 signatures in 22 wards. For a close election, that's unfair Flynn says.

In his request for a hearing to look at changing the rules for close elections, Flynn writes:

Every vote is important and municipalities have the responsibility to provide an accurate count, especially if the margin of victory is narrow. Having a challenging recount process can make it difficult to request an accurate count

He notes that in other cities and towns in the state, the requirement is more typically 10 signatures per ward.

The council will consider Flynn's request for a hearing at its meeting on Wednesday, which will start at noon in its fifth-floor chambers in City Hall.

PDF icon Flynn's request for a hearing111.15 KB


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If an election is "close", the recount should be automatic or at least simply by one of the candidates asking for it. (The definition of "close" would be a good thing for the council to debate and decide.) What is really the point of even having to get 10 signatures in each ward?

Voting closed 22

All it should take is a request if the margin is less than a certain amount. Maybe require signatures if it's in a gray area, but when it's as close as it was it doesn't make sense to have people spend large amounts of time collecting signatures.

Voting closed 8

If there's a one vote margin, you need 1 signature. If there's a 20 vote margin, get 20 signatures.

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I think I understand what you're getting at but answer this: What would happen if there was a 100 vote margin?

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Presumably we'd want to cap the number of signatures, probably at the original 50. Maybe we'd want to do some sort of scaling (or log scale), so 100 votes only needed, say, 25 signatures but 500 votes needed the full 50. And maybe some sort of bucketing, so 1-5 just needs 1 signature, 6-25 needs 10, etc.

I'm not sure what to do for city-wide elections. Average them out so someone who lost by 1000 votes in every ward but one doesn't get to trigger a hopeless recount in the one ward they only lost by 1 vote, but maybe use a geometric mean so someone who lost by 10 in each ward except one where they lost by 500 can still trigger a recount without needing too many in each.

Voting closed 1

It was one vote afterwards.

Voting closed 4

I am more concerned by the amount of incompetent political consultants plying their trade in Boston elections. That’s the real issue. Imagine 1 vote on a 18% turnout. GOTV is a lost art and the current mavens all use the same voter database. And you wonder why you have these kind of results. They are campaigning to less than 10% of registered Boston voters. Imagine what will happen in the next mayoral race. On a 36% turnout, Marty would crush Michelle.

Voting closed 2