The Massachusetts secretary of state has ordered all ballots in a congressional primary race sealed and locked away in anticipation of a recount in the too-close-to-call election.
With 100 percent of precincts results reported by 10:55 a.m. Wednesday, Democrats Lori Trahan and Daniel Koh both held 22 percent of the votes for the 3rd Congressional District, with Trahan leading by a slim, 52-vote margin. However, the results are not official yet as the numbers could change while provisional ballots are counted.
Despite the tight numbers, an automatic recount will not be issued since the results appear as if they would have a difference of less than 0.5 percent. Candidates can petition for a district-wide recount if they have 500 signatures by registered Democrats. They will have until 5 p.m. Friday to do so.
Should there be a recount, it would be done by hand in public with a welcome to spectators.
"Now that 100 percent of the votes have been counted, I am confident that I am your Democratic nominee," Trahan said Wednesday speaking at the University of Massachusetts Lowell.
She thanked voters and said the race proved what they knew all along, "that every vote truly counts".
The Koh campaign released a statement Wednesday morning saying it may be days before the race is decided:
"Given the closeness of the results in the 3rd CD — with 85,000 votes cast and only a handful of votes separating the top two finishers — and the fact that all ballots, including possibly hundreds of provisional ballots, have not been counted, it's clear that the final outcome of the election will not be known for a few days. Dan Koh is committed to making sure all ballots are counted," read a portion of the statement from the Koh campaign.
John Cluverius, a former political consultant and current assistant professor of political science at UMass Lowell says recounts usually end up going in favor of the candidate already ahead.
"I think the Koh campaign is right to say the Trahan campaign is being a little presumptuous," Cluverius said. "I would be extremely surprised if we do not see a recount on his behalf. Fifty-some votes is too narrow a margin to give up a Congressional seat."
The close results are surprising to constituents.
"It's a little nerve-wracking," said voter Leah Shanley of Lowell. "You're never really quite sure. I like it close, but I kind of like whoever I vote for to actually win by a landslide, and that's not happening ... Every vote counts. You can see with the election how important it is that everyone vote."
Some in the district regret not going to the polls.
"I was busy," said Andrea Cyr of Chelmsford. "I didn't have a chance to. I wish I did, it is important to vote."
"I do have regrets because I always do vote," said Steven Sikalis of Acton. "This is the first one I've missed."
Koh is the former chief staff for of Mayor Marty Walsh and Trahan is the former chief of staff for former Congressman Marty Meehan. Both candidates were a part of a dozen individuals who ran to replace outgoing U.S. Rep. Nikki Tsongas, who announced she wasn't seeking re-election last year.
"I would like to congratulate all of the amazing candidates on a wonderful race, especially Lori Trahan. And I ask you all to stick with me, to stay and we're in for a little bit of a ride. So thank you, and let's go," Koh said.
Trahan also spoke with supporters Tuesday night while she was neck-and-neck in the polls.
"I stand before you humbled, honored and leading as your Democratic nominee for Congress, carrying on ... carrying on that incredible legacy of Congresswoman Niki Tsongas," she said.
The winner of the Democratic primary will move on to the general election in November to face Republican Rick Green and Independent Mike Mullen.