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Massachusetts House delays swearing in apparent winners of 2 close recounts

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Keller @ Large: What will the big political stories be for 2023 in Massachusetts? 04:27

By Chris Lisinski, State House News Service

(State House News Service) - Top House Democrats plan on Wednesday to task a special committee with examining the results of two elections decided by microscopic margins following recounts, a process House Speaker Ronald Mariano expects will "temporarily delay" the apparent victors from taking office.

Mariano announced in a statement on Tuesday evening that the House will pause the inauguration of Rep.-elect Margaret Scarsdale of Pepperell and Rep.-elect Kristin Kassner of Hamilton to give a yet-to-be-named panel time to affirm they won their races.

"While I look forward to swearing in Representatives-elect Scarsdale and Kassner, the House will temporarily delay their swearing in to allow the Special Committee to Examine the Returns to thoroughly review the last minute legal issues raised in each race, and affirm the results of each election," Mariano said in a statement.

Legislative leaders convene special committees to examine vote returns at the start of each two-year lawmaking session. This time around, the speaker also plans to task that panel -- whose members will not be announced until Wednesday -- with looking at the pair of recounts and legal challenges they drew.

The House will operate without two members until that committee finishes its work, which is not expected to happen Wednesday, Mariano's office said.

Kassner trailed five-term Republican Rep. Leonard Mirra by 10 votes following the election, but a recount flipped her into the lead by a single vote. Scarsdale led Republican Andrew Shepherd by 17 votes in the initially certified results, and a recount narrowed her lead to seven votes.

Both Mirra and Shepherd filed lawsuits in the wake of the recounts, alleging that election officials made missteps and that some ballots should have been counted differently or tossed. Shepherd's case remains ongoing, and Mirra filed an appeal last week after an Essex Superior Court judge dismissed his complaint.

The Governor's Council certified the results in both recounts on Dec. 14.

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