Justice Heidi Brieger ordered that the City of Revere Election Commission conduct a recount of the votes cast in the Nov. 3 Revere mayoral election in a ruling Thursday afternoon at Suffolk Superior Court. Brieger also ordered that the recount “be undertaken and completed” before Jan. 4, 2016.
Mayor Dan Rizzo lost his bid for re-election to Councillor-at-Large Brian Arrigo in the general election. Arrigo’s margin of victory was 118 votes.
Rizzo requested a recount from the Revere Board of Election Commissioners but no action was taken at a Nov. 23 public hearing. Rizzo filed suit seeking a recount.
In the announcement of her ruling, Brieger said, “There is an agreement among the counsel that all parts of the [Rizzo’s] petitions for a recount were timely filed and there is an agreement that the fact document contained the mayor’s signature requesting a recount. I find also that the mayor intended to seek a recount.”
Brieger added, “If injunctive relief is not rendered, I also find that there is a likelihood that hundreds of voters will forever wonder whether their vote was true and whether or not their vote counted and will forever wonder about the accuracy and the outcome of this election that is so important to the City of Revere.”
Rizzo said he was “gratified” by the court’s decision.
“What ordinarily is a matter of course with an election so close, it was unfortunate that it had to wind up in court. But I’m pleased with the decision. It’s a right decision. It makes sure that every voter’s interest will be represented.
“I’m not asking for anything that any other candidate in the past hasn’t asked for with a close election. I want to make sure that every person who came out and cast a vote for me was adequately counted – and the only way to do that is through a hand-counted recount. I’m looking forward to it.”
Attorneys Sharna D. Favuzza and Aisha Milbury Ellis of DeMoura/Smith LLP represented Rizzo in the proceedings.
“I think we had the law on our side,” said Favuzza. “The law says there must be substantial compliance and at the end of the day, there are two things that the election statutes make sure: one, that the will of the voters is carried out and the other that there is no fraud. The only reason all those statutes are written is for those two tenets. There was no fraud in this case and the balancing of the harms – if we don’t get the recount, the will of the voter might not be carried out. My client complied with the law.”
Favuzza was asked whether she had some anxious moments while Brieger was leading up to the final declaration of her decision.
“Nothing’s a slam dunk – and when you’re arguing something that’s never been argued, when you’re looking at the law and it’s really nothing exactly on point – then it’s nerve-wracking. But we were confident going in. We had the law on our side. My client did the right thing and that’s really what should win out.”
Arrigo was present at the hearing and was represented by attorney Dennis Newman, one of the attorneys who assisted Vice President Al Gore in the 2000 Presidential Election that was won by George W. Bush following weeks of controversy involving the Florida vote tally.
Arrigo spoke about the decision in an interview with reporters. “Obviously the judge made a decision to move forward with the recount. We’re going to be prepared to make sure that we win a second time. I have all the confidence in the world in the Election Commission [that] the first time the election was held properly and the 118-vote difference I don’t think will change very much – and I look forward to confirming that and putting any questions that anyone has about the election results to rest. And I look forward to starting and hitting the ground running on January 4.”