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Councilor Connolly’s Re-Election May Hinge on One Unopened Ballot

October 4, 1988

BOSTON (AP) _ An Executive Council member whose own vote could have given him a tie in his re-election primary, learned Monday that a missing absentee ballot has turned up.

Herbert Connolly, who has served in the obscure state office since 1969, failed in a court bid to halt the printing of ballots for the November election, which went to the printer Monday bearing his rival’s name.

But Connolly won an expedited hearing in Superior Court after he learned that a still-sealed absentee ballot was found in Brookline town hall.

Connolly said he was late getting to the polls on Sept. 15 and failed to cast a vote for himself in the Democratic primary.

So it was his own fault when a recount showed that Connolly had lost the Democratic nomination for a seat on the Executive Council by just one vote.

The recount showed Connolly with 14,715 votes. His opponent, Lowell City Councilor Robert B. Kennedy, got 14,716.

The 67-year-old car dealer said he had been campaigning in the neighboring city of Waltham on election day, ″and I waited until the last minute to race over″ to vote.

The eight-member Governor’s Council, which dates from the Colonial era, lost many of its powers in the 1960s. Its chief remaining duties are to approve criminal pardons and confirm judges nominated by Gov. Michael S. Dukakis.

In any event, failing to vote was not Connolly’s only blunder. Shortly before the primary, he placed a newspaper advertisement urging his supporters to get to the polls on Sept. 14. The election was Sept. 15.

Connolly’s lawyer, state Rep. William Galvin, former House chairman of the Legislature’s committee on Election Laws, said the lost ballot could be blank.

If it is opened and allowed and shows a vote for Kennedy, giving him a two- vote margin, Galvin said he would still contest the outcome.

If the mystery ballot was cast for Connolly, Galvin said the resulting tie would have to be broken by a vote of the ward and town Democratic committees in Connolly’s district.

″This is really a very interesting situation,″ observed Deputy Secretary of State Martin Meehan.

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