SEEKONK, Mass. (WPRI) — Democratic congressional candidate Becky Grossman says her campaign plans to sue the state of Massachusetts over its policies surrounding mail ballots, amid rising alarm about whether problems at the U.S. Postal Service could hamper the Sept. 1 primary election.
Grossman, one of eight Democrats running to succeed Joe Kennedy in the 4th Congressional District, said she is hearing reports from voters in communities such as Fall River and North Attleboro that they still haven’t received their ballots, and is concerned they will not have enough turnaround time to get them back before the primary.
The decision to go to court comes amid reports around the nation of a slowdown in mail delivery and as President Trump publicly acknowledges he is against providing more funding for the Postal Service because it would help pay for extensive voting by mail.
“President Trump is trying to sabotage our right to vote safely,” Grossman, a Newton city councilor, told WPRI 12. “He is attacking the Postal Service here in Massachusetts and around the country. Without action, voters risk not having their ballots received in time. That is not OK. That is not acceptable. And I won’t stand for it.”
“I’m not going to let any corner of this district get left behind,” she added.
In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the Massachusetts legislature recently enacted a law allowing all voters to cast a ballot by mail in this year’s elections, and a blank application was sent to every registered voter. The deadline for applications is Aug. 26, four business days before the primary. To be counted, a mail ballot must reach a local election office by 8 p.m. on Sept. 1.
Massachusetts voters can track the status of their mail ballots on the secretary of state’s website.
Grossman’s lawsuit, which her campaign said will be filed this week, will ask a judge to order the counting of any mail ballot postmarked by Sept. 1 and received up to 10 days later. She is being represented by Jeff Robbins and Joseph Lipchitz of the law firm Saul Ewing Arnstern & Lehr LLP.
“This will prevent the wholesale disenfranchisement of voters across the Commonwealth by the existing rule that votes must be received by Sept. 1, a rule which, applied during the pandemic and given the apparent evisceration of the USPS, is inconsistent with the bedrock constitutional requirement that voters who wish to vote be enabled to do so,” Robbins said in a statement.
A top official at the U.S. Postal Service recently sent letters to elections officials in 46 states, including Massachusetts, warning that the post office cannot guarantee mail ballots will be transmitted in time to be counted under their current deadlines.
In addition to the expansion of mail ballots, Massachusetts legislators have also created a new in-person early voting period for the primary, from Aug. 22 to Aug. 28.
The 4th Congressional District stretches from northern Fall River through the Attleboros and Taunton up to the Boston suburbs. Grossman is seen as one of the frontrunners in the primary, but experts say multiple candidates have a path to victory.
Ted Nesi (firstname.lastname@example.org) is WPRI 12’s politics and business editor and a Target 12 investigative reporter. He is a weekly panelist on Newsmakers and hosts Executive Suite. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook