2013 Municipal Election Recount


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The Cambridge Board of Election Commissioners will begin a recount of the City Council ballots from the November 5, 2013, Municipal Election on Monday, December 2, 2013. The recount process will commence at 8:30 am at the Moore Youth Center located at 12 Gilmore Street in Cambridge. It is anticipated that the process to recount the 17,846 ballots will continue daily from 8:30 a.m. until approximately 6:00 p.m., excluding Sundays and the brief recess that will occur as a result of the December 10 Special Election, until nine candidates have been elected.  The Election Commission will be swearing in more than election workers to complete the recount and the process may take up to two weeks to complete.

Each City Council candidate will be entitled to have an observer at each table where the recount of the ballots affecting such candidate is being held. A maximum of 27 tables will be utilized. There will be viewing areas for the press and the general public; however, due to the size of the Moore Youth Center, there is a limited amount of space in the public/press gallery.

The following is an overview of the recount process adopted by the Election Commissioners: 

  • The commissioners will review all challenged and provisional voters as well as any absentee ballots that have been rejected.
  • Eleven stations will be set up – one for each ward.  Workers at each table will open the ballot carriers for one precinct at a time and distribute the ballots to boxes based on number one votes for each candidate. 
  • Once the ballots are sorted into number one votes, each candidate’s stack will be stamped with the appropriate ward and precinct, counted and placed into candidate precinct envelopes.  Once all of the envelopes are filled and marked, they will be stored in secure boxes in the middle of the room.  This process will continue until all precincts are counted at each ward table. 
  • The room will then be arranged so that each table will be assigned to a different candidate.  In the order of the random draw, one precinct box at a time will be opened up and the candidate precinct envelopes will be distributed to the candidate tables, where workers will double check that the ballots were properly sorted and stamp each ballot with the candidate’s name and a sequential number.  Once all of the precincts have been counted, we will have the official count of number one votes for each candidate.
  • First round of transfers:  M.G.L. 54A § 9(o) requires that “If in correcting an error, any ballots are re-sorted or re-transferred, every ballot shall be made to take the same course that it took in the original count unless the correction of an error requires its taking a different course.”  M.G.L. c. 54A, §12 requires that a recount “shall be conducted according to the rules prescribed for the original count as nearly as is practicable.” Therefore, any ballots where the order affects which course the ballot will take will be put into the same order that they were counted by the computer at the original count.  We will print replicas of the ballots in the order they were counted by the computer, and we will match the actual ballots to the replicas.  That way we will be able to put the original ballots into the order that they were originally counted. 
  • In each round, we will determine which ballots need to be transferred and transfer those ballots to the next continuing candidate.  When necessary, we will put those ballots into order by matching the original ballots with the replica ballots before transferring the ballots.  The rounds in which the order of the ballots will affect the course that the ballots will take will be the distribution of the surplus and the rounds in which a candidate reaches quota and is elected.
  • We will repeat the process of transferring votes until nine candidates have been elected.

Additional information about the recount can be found on the Election Commission’s website at http://www.cambridgema.gov/election.aspx

Please note that the recount guidelines are subject to change by a vote of the Board of Election Commissioners. 



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Monday: 8:30am-8pm
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Richard C. Rossi
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Lisa C. Peterson
Deputy City Manager