Mass. Republicans continue to contest 2020 election results

Losing GOP candidates will appeal lawsuit’s dismissal

DID YOU THINK the battle over the 2020 election was over? Think again.

This week, US Rep. Liz Cheney lost her position in Republican House leadership for rejecting former president Donald Trump’s lie that he won the 2020 presidential election – a position GOP leaders apparently agree with.

Closer to home, former 5th Congressional District candidate Caroline Colarusso indicated that she too is not giving up her stance questioning the integrity of the November election.

A Worcester Superior Court judge on Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit filed by five losing Republican candidates, including Colarusso, challenging the election results. On Thursday, Colarusso said the group plans to file an appeal.

“Our intention is to appeal,” Colarusso told CommonWealth. “In the judge’s decision, she glossed over the constitutional issue, which is the crux of our argument.”

The Republicans had argued that the state law allowing voters to vote by mail for any reason during the COVID-19 pandemic was unconstitutional because it falls outside the constitutionally established reasons for letting voters cast absentee ballots. Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin and the Legislature have maintained that early voting by mail is different from absentee balloting, so it can have different rules.

In her ruling, Judge Janet Kenton-Walker did not get into the constitutional issues, but found that the challenge was moot because the election was over and the law that allowed voting by mail was only put in place for 2020. She also wrote that the Legislature had a “rational basis” for enacting the law and acted within its authority.

But Colarusso argues that if lawmakers can bypass the constitutional requirements related to absentee voting for the pandemic, “they can do it for any reason they want.”

Colarusso said she thinks the 2020 election remains relevant for many people. She said Galvin still has not responded to concerns raised by Republican members of the Legislature’s Election Laws Committee about how vote by mail was implemented, such as whether there was adequate ballot security. She slammed Galvin for not answering questions about how many ballots were returned as undeliverable.

“I’m urging the state Republican Party to look back because how can you talk to anyone about running for office when they’re not confident that our elections are free and fair?” Colarusso said.

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Shira Schoenberg

Reporter, CommonWealth

About Shira Schoenberg

Shira Schoenberg is a reporter at CommonWealth magazine. Shira previously worked for more than seven years at the Springfield Republican/MassLive.com where she covered state politics and elections, covering topics as diverse as the launch of the legal marijuana industry, problems with the state's foster care system and the elections of U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Gov. Charlie Baker. Shira won the Massachusetts Bar Association's 2018 award for Excellence in Legal Journalism and has had several stories win awards from the New England Newspaper and Press Association. Shira covered the 2012 New Hampshire presidential primary for the Boston Globe. Before that, she worked for the Concord (N.H.) Monitor, where she wrote about state government, City Hall and Barack Obama's 2008 New Hampshire primary campaign. Shira holds a master's degree from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism.

About Shira Schoenberg

Shira Schoenberg is a reporter at CommonWealth magazine. Shira previously worked for more than seven years at the Springfield Republican/MassLive.com where she covered state politics and elections, covering topics as diverse as the launch of the legal marijuana industry, problems with the state's foster care system and the elections of U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Gov. Charlie Baker. Shira won the Massachusetts Bar Association's 2018 award for Excellence in Legal Journalism and has had several stories win awards from the New England Newspaper and Press Association. Shira covered the 2012 New Hampshire presidential primary for the Boston Globe. Before that, she worked for the Concord (N.H.) Monitor, where she wrote about state government, City Hall and Barack Obama's 2008 New Hampshire primary campaign. Shira holds a master's degree from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism.

For his part, Galvin, a Democrat who reportedly is leaning toward running for reelection in 2022, is also seizing on the issue of vote by mail – but for opposite reasons. His political committee on Thursday sent out a rare press release highlighting statements Galvin made while being honored by the Longmeadow Democratic Town Committee discussing GOP efforts to obstruct voting and calling on Congress to allow voting by mail for any reason nationwide. “If you care about social justice and economic justice, or civil rights, the issue of voter rights is the superseding issue of our times,” Galvin said.

Colarusso won’t say whether she is planning another run for office (against Galvin, perhaps?). But clearly, many Republicans believe that contesting the 2020 election results remains a winning issue.